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Nick Ali: Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter #52

Planet Ubuntu - Sun, 2007-08-12 21:22

Some topics covered:

  • Tribe 4 Released
  • Ubuntu Viral Videos
  • Community Hosted Servers Compromised
  • US LoCo Teams Project Forum
  • In The Press and In the Blogosphere
  • Translation stats
  • Bug Stats

Read it here.

If you think you have a story for the UWN, email ubuntu-marketing-submissions@lists.ubuntu.com.

And if you like it, digg it.

John Crawford: Ubuntu Viral Videos

Planet Ubuntu - Sun, 2007-08-12 16:06

There has been a proposal put forth to start a marketing project similar to the Firefox Flicks campaign for Ubuntu. The purpose of the campaign would be to raise the brand awareness level of Ubuntu. Contributors would be able to submit short films advertising Ubuntu. These submissions would then be voted on by site visitors.

The US Teams Project is asking all state loco’s to participate in this project, but I believe the whole Ubuntu community should get behind this project. We need to do whatever we can to find new and inventive ways to advocate Ubuntu. We must reach the masses if we have any expectation of becoming the desktop of choice.


Alberto Milone: Mini-howto: using Envy on Debian Testing or Unstable (WARNING: use it at your very own risk)

Planet Ubuntu - Sun, 2007-08-12 14:54

Etch is the only Debian distribution currently supported by Envy, however many users keep asking me how to use Envy on Debian Testing (Lenny) or Unstable (Sid). If you want to try Envy on Debian testing or unstable at your very own risk you can follow these steps:

NOTE: you will have to put the word “sid” instead of “lenny” if you use Debian unstable

sudo nano -w /usr/share/envy/instun/classes.py

go to line 324 so as to see the following line:
elif self.details['osname'] == 'cassandra':#SUPPORT FOR LINUX MINT CASSANDRA
self.details['osname'] = 'feisty'#this will make it act like

replace ‘cassandra’ with ‘lenny’ and ‘feisty’ with ‘etch’ so as to see something like the following (please, edit the file manually so as not to break Python’s indentation):
elif self.details['osname'] == 'lenny':#SUPPORT FOR LINUX MINT CASSANDRA
self.details['osname'] = 'etch'#this will make it act like feisty

Then press CTRL+X to exit (save the file)

Envy will no longer complain about the fact that your OS is not supported however it may crash for other reasons.

NOTE: Wordpress doesn’t seem to keep Python’s indentation :-/

Tiago Faria: UbuntuBackstage.org is up and running

Planet Ubuntu - Sun, 2007-08-12 12:04

The site has just been taken off maintenance mode and two interviews have been published!

Feel free to stop by and leave as many comments as you want. If you see something you don’t like, tell me!

Aaron Toponce: Aptitude vs Apt-Get

Planet Ubuntu - Sun, 2007-08-12 10:38

Being an Ubuntu/Debian user (yes, I use and advocate both), I have fallen in love with the Advanced Packaging Tool, also known as apt. Before Ubuntu, I played in the world of RPM hell, with distros such as Red Hat itself, Mandrake (as it was called back then), and even SuSE. I would find some piece of software, try to install it, only to find that it would choke, saying that it relied on some certain dependencies. I would install the dependencies, only to find conflicting versions with newer software. Hell indeed. So when I discovered the Debian way of installing software, I wondered why no one had mentioned it to me before. It was heaven. This is the way to software, I thought.

So, as any new user to the world of apt learns, apt-get is the way to install software in your system. After working on a Debian-based system that uses apt, such as Ubuntu, you also learn the various tools:

  • apt-get: Installing and removing packages from your system, as well as updating package lists and upgrading the software itself.
  • apt-cache: Search for packages in the package list maintained by apt on the local system
  • dpkg- Used for various administrative tasks to your system, such as reconfiguring Xorg.

Those are probably the first few tools that you learn while on a Debian-based distro, if you plan on getting down and dirty at any length. But the buck doesn’t stop there. You need to memorize, and learn other tools, if you are to further administrate your system. These include:

  • apt-listbugs: See what bugs are listed on a software package before you install it.
  • apt-listchanges: Same thing as apt-listbugs, but for non-bug changes.
  • apt-rdepends: Tool for viewing dependency trees on packages.
  • deborphan- Look for orphaned dependencies on the system left from removing parent packages.
  • debfoster- Helps deborphan identify what package dependencies you no longer need on your system.
  • dselect- Curses interface for viewing, selecting and searching for packages on your system.

There’s even more: apt-cdrom, apt-config, apt-extracttemplates, apt-ftparchive, apt-key, apt-mark and apt-sortpkgs.

If any of you have noticed, that is 16 different tools that you need to become familiar with, if you are to start learning about your Debian-based distro. I don’t know about you, but doesn’t that seem a bit bass-ackwards? I mean, when I’m using OpenSSH, for example, other than scp, all of the functionality of OpenSSH is filed under one tool: ssh. So, wouldn’t you think that all the functionality of apt would be under one tool, namely just ‘apt’?

Further more, apt-get has a big problem that hasn’t really been addressed until only just recently. The problem is in removing packages. You see, apt-get does a great job of indentifying what dependencies need to be installed when you want a certain package, but it fails miserably when you want to remove that package. If dependencies were required, ‘apt-get remove’ will remove your packages, but leave orphaned dependencies on your system. Psychocats.net has a great writeup on this very phenomenon, by simply installing and removing the package kword. The solution? Aptitude.

Now, before I continue, I want to say that yes, I am aware of ‘apt-get autoremove’ finally being able to handle orphaned dependencies. This is a step in the right direction, for sure. However, apt-get, with its many other tools, is an okay way of doing things, if you like to learn 16 different tools. Aptitude, as I will show you, is one tool for them all.

Aptitude is the superior way to install, remove, upgrade, and otherwise administer packages on you system with apt. For one, since it’s inception, aptitude has been solving orphaned dependencies. Second, it has a curses interface that blows the doors off of dselect. Finally, and most importantly, it takes advantage of one tool, doing many many functions. Let’s take a look:

  • aptitude: Running it with no arguments brings up a beautiful interface to search, navigate, install, update and otherwise administer packages.
  • aptitude install: Installing software for your system, installing needed dependencies as well.
  • aptitude remove: Removing packages as well as orphaned dependencies.
  • aptitude purge: Removing packages and orphaned dependencies as well as any configuration files left behind.
  • aptitude search: Search for packages in the local apt package lists.
  • aptitude update: Update the local packages lists.
  • aptitude upgrade: Upgrade any installed packages that have been updated.
  • aptitude clean: Delete any downloaded files necessary for installing the software on your system.
  • aptitude dist-upgrade: Upgrade packages, even if it means uninstalling certain packages.
  • aptitude show: Show details about a package name.
  • aptitude autoclean: Delete only out-of-date packages, but keep current ones.
  • aptitude hold: Fix a package at it’s current version, and don’t update it

Are we starting to see a pattern here? One command with different readable options (no unnecessary flags). And that’s just the tip of the ice berg. It gets better. For example, when searching for a package using aptitude, the results are sorted alphabetically (gee, imagine that) and justified in column width format. Heck, it will even tell you which one you have installed on your system already, instead of haphazardly listing the packages in some random, unreadable format, like apt-cache.

I’ve already mentioned it, but aptitude run with no options will pull up a curses application for you to navigate your apt system. If any of you have used it, you know that it is far superior to dselect- talk about a shoddy application. Aptitude makes searching for packages, updating them, removing them, getting details and other necessary tools, easy. Spend 20 minutes inside the console, and you begin to feel like this is an application done right. Spend 20 minutes in dselect, and you’ll begin to get massive headaches, and feel lost inside Pan’s Labyrinth.

Aptitude is just superior to apt-get in every way, shape, and form. Better dependency handling. Better curses application. Better options. ONE tool. Better stdout formatting. The list goes on and on. I see constantly, on forums, IRC and email, the use of apt-get. We need to better educate our brethren and sisters about the proper use of tools, and show them the enlightened way of aptitude. I’ve been using aptitude since I first learned about it, ad will continue to do so the remainder of my Debian/Ubuntu days.

Thanks to GarfieldTech for the inspiration of this post.

Lean aptitude. Use aptitude.

Hardening Linux

Slashdot Linux - Sun, 2007-08-12 09:28
davidmwilliams writes "Out of the box, many Linux systems are insecure with open ports and unpatched vulnerabilities. Read about the essential steps to secure your server as well as how to solve them manually and via automated tools like Bastille."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Andrew Bennetts: On computer programming

Planet Ubuntu - Sun, 2007-08-12 05:23

Nicholas describes the process and results of computer programming:

“It's sort of like you're a combination architect / builder, but you're a really terrible one. Someone asks you to build a new bathroom for their house, so you do, but despite all your careful planning the finished product is just shite. For example, the shower wall is made out of soap, because you thought it would be convenient?—?now nobody needs to buy soap, because they can just rub up and down against the wall for a bit and then hose themselves off (you installed a hose instead of a shower head for greater flexibility).”

It's worth reading the full piece.

Sridhar Dhanapalan: Tipping point

Planet Ubuntu - Sun, 2007-08-12 02:11

Reading this KernelTrap article, I came across an interesting quote from Linus Torvalds:

"Really early on when I was making Linux, one of the things I was really doing was reading Internet news from the university computer. I was dialing up to the university, I usually got a busy signal, so I programed an auto dialer. It would dial and if it got a busy signal, it would wait a minute then redial. I wasn’t using Linux full time yet but was still using it. By mistake, I auto dialed my hard disc and basically I overwrote the operating system with the dial strings. So I had to decide if I would reinstall the OS I was using or start using Linux full time. I said OK, that’s a sign, I’ll start using Linux full time."

This rekindled memories of what prompted me to use GNU/Linux full-time, back in 1999. My 12GB hard drive decided to cark it, and at short notice I was able to borrow an 850MB unit. Being far too small to comfortably accommodate two operating systems, I was faced with a dilemma: should I stick with what I knew (and hated), or take the plunge and go all the way with the OS that I had only been toying with by that stage? I chose the latter, and have never regretted it.

What are your experiences? Was there a single incident that ‘broke the camel’s back’, or was it more of a gradual process? Let me know in the comments section.


LotD:  The definitive dual-booting guide: Linux, Vista and XP step-by-step

Nick Ali: August Ubuntu Georgia US Team Meeting

Planet Ubuntu - Sun, 2007-08-12 01:44

Saturday afternoon, the Ubuntu Georgia US Team held its third face to face meeting at a local pizza joint. Some of the usual characters showed up like Tim Jagenberg, Joshua Chase (our new marketing manager), and Bill Weber (the infamous compiledkernel). We were also introduced to Jon Reagan, our newest LoCo coordinator, who has done a great job running our weekly meetings, and setting up the August meet.

A welcome addition to the team, Rick Clark, the new lead of the Server Team, brought us Feisty CDs and stickers from the recent Gutsy sprint.

The meeting announcement was cross-posted to the ALE (Atlanta Linux Enthusiasts) mailing list and several of its members joined us. Rick will be doing an Ubuntu presentation at an ALE meeting in the near future. We hope this is the beginning of a great relationship between the Ubuntu LoCo and LUGs around the state of Georgia.

Among the many topics discussed, planning has begun for a Gutsy release party and install fest.

This will unfortunately be the last time many of us see Tim, as he will be returning to Germany to continue his schooling. Good luck Tim!

Debian Package of the Day: xdiskusage: where is the space?

Planet Ubuntu - Sun, 2007-08-12 00:05

Article submitted by Carles Pina from Catux-LUG. We have run out of good articles! Please help DPOTD and submit good articles about software you like!

Have you ever wished to know where are those files that waste space on your hard drive? Have you ever wondered which folder contained the most gigabytes? Your wishes had become true! xdiskusage is your application.

Using xdiskusage you can discover very easily how your hard drive’s directories are organised, and specially how much space is used by each one.

After executing xdiskusage without arguments, the initial default view will be the list of partitions:

By double-clicking in some partition you will get the list of the biggest directories (arranged by size) and the space that each one is using:

(notice that free space is shown as another directory)

You can double-click in any other directory to explore it. Right-clicking shows a menu with some options like hide, unhide, go in, go out, etc. Just play with it!

xdiskusage is also a fantastic complement for “du”:

$ cd /tmp $ du | xdiskusage

You can give any directory as an argument to xdiskusage:

$ xdiskusage /usr/src

One last thing: the -a switch shows files and not only directories:


In Debian you can fine some alternatives to xdiskusage like:

  • gt5: not in Debian Etch. HTML based, needs a browser to navigate (text or graphical)
  • baobab: GTK based
  • filelight: KDE libs based
  • kdirstat: KDE based

The last three of them are more eye candy than xdiskusage, but I preferred a simpler solution, without that many dependencies. Of course, feel free to test and choose!


xdiskusage has been available in both Debian and Ubuntu since a long time ago.

Note that there is a bug that doesn’t allow the application to be launched by app-launchers such as Alt + F2 or menus. It’s a reported bug (Debian bug #276193).

Thanks to Fran Hermoso for correcting the text again, and to Muzzol from the Catalan-Ubuntu mailing list for commenting it.

Torvalds on Linux and Microsoft

Slashdot Linux - Sat, 2007-08-11 20:40
Sniper223 writes with a link to an interview on the Network World site with Linus Torvalds. Linus goes through the usual spiel about stuff like why he released the Linux OS in the first place, and how the future is open source. He also has some interesting commentary on the Microsoft/Novell deal: "I actually thought that whole discussion was interesting, not because of any Novell versus MS issues at all, but because all the people talking about them so clearly showed their own biases. The actual partnership itself seemed pretty much a nonissue to me, and not nearly as interesting as the reaction it got from people, and how it was reported ... I don't actually personally think the Novell-MS agreement kind of thing matters all that much in the end, but it's interesting to see the signs that the sides are at least talking to each other. I don't know what the end result will be, but I think it would be healthier for everybody if there wasn't the kind of rabid hatred on both sides. Some people get a bit too excited about MS, I think. I don't think they are that interesting." An interesting contrast to our earlier conversation.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Martin Böhm: Tiny features I’d like to see - a rEFIt-like theme for GRUB

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 2007-08-11 19:12

If you’re not an Apple hardware owner, you probably have not heard about rEFIt yet. It is a great enhanced boot menu tool(kit) for Macs. When you install rEFIt and some other OSes, your boot screen looks like this:

Lovely, isn’t it? I really hope the hard-working GNU GRUB folks are going to make native resolution themes like this a reality for GRUB2. The current black&white boot menu reminds me of the ancient console-only times… the nostalgia is nice as well, but most people would prefer to “see into the future” when they look at their computers. And having a pleasant look from the boot-up to the shutdown is surely going to increase users’ trust in Ubuntu (and GNU/Linux in general).

Unfortunately, the GRUB(2) project didn’t get a student for the appearance improvements at the Google Summer of Code 2007. But they did get a student working on another killer feature for GRUB - being able to launch a bootable CD from GRUB - a feature I wished for many, many times. Thanks, Alexandru!

John Crawford: Ubuntu US Teams Project

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 2007-08-11 15:38

Being a US Teams mentor, I have a special desire to see this project succeed. Our goal is to have an approved team in every US state by the year 2008. We still need teams in the following states: Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, North Dakota and West Virginia. If you are an Ubuntu user, and live in one of these states, please get in contact with our team. You can join us in the IRC Channel #ubuntu-us, the server is Freenode, and we will help you get all the resources for your team set up.

What kind of resources? Ubuntu provides each team with its own IRC Channel to have meetings and hang out in. You also get a mailing list for your team. This enables you to send out emails to all team members at one time, and also allows them to respond. Teams also get a Launchpad page, a team wiki page, and a team forum page. These pages are customizable to allow teams to present what they are working on. When a member joins a team in Launchpad they get their own personal wiki page to set up and show who they are, and what they are doing to help advocate Ubuntu.

As you can see, Ubuntu generously provides your team with everything you need to get your team up and running with the best resources available. And the US Teams Project will provide guidance and mentors to help you become a successful advocate for Ubuntu. Our teams work hard to advance the idea of Ubuntu and Open Source, while at the same time providing a unique social atmosphere of fun and family morals. You won’t find a better community than the one you will get by joining the US LoCo Teams Project.

Whether your state has an existing team, or is still in need of one, please consider joining our group. Below I will provide some links to the AZ Team so you can get an idea of what our team is working on.

AZ Team Forum Page

AZ Team Wiki Page

AZ Team Launchpad Page

My Personal Wiki Page

SCO Fiasco Over For Linux, Starting For Solaris?

Slashdot Linux - Sat, 2007-08-11 14:18
kripkenstein writes "We have just heard that the SCO fiasco is finally going to end for Linux. But Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols at DesktopLinux.com points out that the favorable result for Linux may cause unpleasant consequences for rival open-source operating system OpenSolaris: 'At one time, Sun was an SCO supporter ... Sun's Jonathan Schwartz — then Sun VP of software and today Sun's president and CEO — said in 2003 that Sun had bought "rights equivalent to ownership" to Unix. SCO agreed. In 2005, SCO CEO Darl McBride said that SCO had no problem with Sun open-sourcing Unix code in what would become OpenSolaris. "We have seen what Sun plans to do with OpenSolaris and we have no problem with it," McBride said. "What they're doing protects our Unix intellectual property rights." Sun now has a little problem, which might become a giant one: SCO never had any Unix IP to sell. Therefore, it seems likely that Solaris and OpenSolaris contains Novell's Unix IP.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Linux Foundation Calls for 'Respect for Microsoft'

Slashdot Linux - Sat, 2007-08-11 12:21
kripkenstein writes "Jim Zemlin (executive director for the Linux Foundation) gave a talk at LinuxWorld saying that the open source community should stop poking fun at Microsoft. From the VNU article: 'Open source vendors have to recognize that Windows is here to stay and that together with Microsoft it will form a duopoly in the market for operating systems. This also requires that the Linux community respects Microsoft rather than ridicule it. "There are some things that Windows does pretty well," Zemlin said. Microsoft for instance has excelled in marketing the operating system, and has a good track record in fending off competition.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Juan Carlos Torres: Oh Happy Day!

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 2007-08-11 12:00

After weeks of “reflective silence”, topped with days of sulking after losing so much of my data, I finally experience once more the happiness that makes life.

I’m the proud owner of two of my dream items:

Yep! That’s a violin. There are 3 musical instruments that have always interested me: piano, flute, and violin. I’ve always found the violin to be the most “other-worldly” of the three. I wanted to learn how to play the violin years ago. Now I have a violin to call my own! All that remains is learning how to play it, which is probably going to be difficult, since I don’t personally know anyone who has any background in violin. I might end up self-studying in the beginning. But if there’s a will, there’s a way. And there definitely is a will.

I finally was able to buy that Qt book I’ve been looking for for months. I almost lost hope of being able to buy locally any of the books that I need/want. So it was a surprise when a store that specialized in computer books and software added this book to their catalog. After constant inquiries when the next copy would be available, I was able to reserve the last copy of that book, which I was supposed to buy to day. Just my luck, somehow the book got left in the warehouse and didn’t get delivered to the store. After complementing their excellent customer service, I went to a bookstore to cool off. I was completely speechless when I saw a whole new line up of books (finally!) and among them is this book! So my 3-hour trip (back and forth) to the mall wasn’t for naught. Now I’m a bit closer to some of my goals for programming Qt and KDE. And that makes me super happy.

A side note, something that also makes me happy, is that our local bookstore now has more relevant, non-Microsoft-centered books. They even had 3 Ubuntu books! Not gonna buy them ASAP, though. And still wondering how much info on Kubuntu are in those books. There are also some other Linux-related books. I hope that’s a sign of improvement in the choices of computer books that we have in the Philippines.

Oh well, back to reflective silence…

Freddy Martinez: Platforms

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 2007-08-11 11:12

It seems that I generally like platforms that are open for developers. One example is Firefox which has become a great platform for developing new technologies. Most people use Firefox for web browsing but there is so much more that Firefox can do like RSS feeds, P2P sharing, and IRC. What is great is that there is a way for people to make dead useful applications on top of the Fx application as well as less critical applications like games for Fx. By being able to pull in weather, Ad Blocking, or wasting hours and hours of time stumbling the user is able to do more with their browser. How cool is it that people can be online and get a storm warning or the latest baseball headlines. I know several people who say they love Firefox simply for Stumble Upon without knowing more reasons why Firefox is better than other browsers. Its great to see people using free software because people have developed tools to run on top of it. Further, I was reading about AllPeers one time and read a statistic that ~10% of AllPeers users download Firefox specifically to use AllPeers. By building a platform for development, the Mozilla team is helping their own cause without too much effort. Now that doesn’t mean extensions and themes are perfect as they do conflict at times and make things crash but users are allowed the flexibility to browse as they wish.  I think that makes the headaches we get because of odd and untrackable crash reports worthwhile. I think its valuable that people don’t do *all* the work themselves and allow people to fill in their own vision for the project or make something they want to see in the application. This isn’t limited to Firefox, for example Facebook opened their platform to developers and got some great applications like “I can has Cheezburger” and “A Bunny Picture” while there where some useless applications like the million “Horoscope” applications or “Zombie Attack”.

Now I’m off to eat breakfast and attend the Ubuntu Chicago LoCo meeting followed by Chicago GNU/Linux.

Nik Butler: Free and open discussions may require comprimises.

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 2007-08-11 09:31

Recently Chris Rowson posted a suggestion about the viral marketing of Ubuntu in a style similar to Firefox flicks . The wiki page which details the project goes into more details. I felt the conversation on the mailing list did not get as far as it could have and I didnt wish to restrict the conversation to a space limited only to those subscribing, especially since the response involved making a point about the technology required.

I feel that Chris Rowson’s idea is a good, positive and informative one which could drive a more inclusive and vested involvement from many levels of our community without the requirement for “technical merits”. Where I feel “those few” will restrict the growth on this idea is by taking time to discuss the merits of formats and licensing ,not just get on and make the content as it stands. I really have to hope this doesn’t happen since the value of getting things done and feeling productive is an important part of the Loco team motivation for being involved.

I really hope we can embrace using formats such as Adobes Flash video player and we can find ways to make Video cameras work more like Ubuntu.

Oracle Contributes Linux Code, Expands Hardware Support

Slashdot Linux - Sat, 2007-08-11 06:07
Jaden writes "Oracle expanded the list of hardware compatible with its Linux distribution and added support for Novell's YAST administration tool. They have now certified six hardware configurations able to run Oracle Enterprise Linux. Certified products include those made by Compellent Technologies, Dell, Egenera, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Pillar Data Systems and Unisys. Oracle also said it is releasing an open-source version of the YAST Linux installation and configuration tool for Oracle Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux under the General Public License."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Brian Burger: To South Africa (via Frankfurt)

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 2007-08-11 05:38

Corey & I are off in just over 36hrs to South Africa, with 4 days or so in Frankfurt, Germany enroute.

Just did a test pack of my main bag - not only does everything fit, the bag closes and it's not insanely heavy.

This probably means I'm forgetting something important...

The agenda in Frankfurt is pretty simple: beer, sightsee, beer, hang out, beer. Oh, did I mention beer?

We head off to Cape Town on Saturday the 18th - it's been about 13 years (!) since either of us were there - 1994 was the last family visit! Lots of relatives I haven't seen since then and who haven't seen me - there's a few who've made it up here in the intervening years.

Updates to this blog, my Flickr account and via email as & when I can from the road!

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