Xfce 4.8 comes to Xubuntu Natty

25, January 2011

Xfce 4.8 released, see www.xfce.org

Xfce 4.8 seems to be fully implemented in Xubuntu Natty 11.04 now, I’ve been running Xubuntu since Alpha 1 having decided I don’t want either Unity, it’s fallback Gnome or Gnome shell and am loving it. I’m running it on my laptop as the main o/s doing safe upgrades every few days and [fingers crossed] not had any problems. I think Xubuntu is going to be my new main o/s and am looking forward to Alpha 2 in February when I’ll be testing it on my spare “testing” PC .

Natty Unity

5, January 2011

So I’ve been doing some ISO testing of the Natty Alpha 1 release and have had one or two problems [see previous post iso Testing Natty ] but my main problem with it has been the decision to replace the default Gnome desktop with Unity. Unity is a 3D replacement for the 2D Gnome desktop which Gnome are about to replace anyway with Gnome Shell. Ubuntu seem to have decided Gnome Shell is not the direction they want to go so are replacing the desktop with their own. Unity brings the notebook and desktop versions of Ubuntu together with only minor differences which will be detected and applied during install. The standard approach will therefore be a notebook type display on both desktop and notebook. The main difference will be the loss of the bottom panel, the replacement of the top panel with a more interactive menu and a Mac style icon dock down the left hand side.

When you install the Ubuntu default now you will need a 3D enabled graphics card to run Unity or you will be presented with a pop up message currently;

Sorry you don’t have 3D support, install it for
your graphic hardware to get Unity or please
reboot and select “Classic session” at startup.

Not a very helpful message in my opinion, basically you can go into [System], [Administration], [Login Screen] and change [Ubuntu desktop Edition] to [Ubuntu Classic Desktop] then log out and back in again to 2D Classic Mode but this is not obvious from the message. The other option would be to add the 3D driver [if your card supports 3D] and log out and back in again for Unity to display, Nvidia owners beware! The message is particularly unhelpful if you are running a Live CD version or USB stick with persistence not enabled because you will not be able to install the driver as a restart will wipe the changes, noobs will be confused.

Personally I don’t like Unity, it’s more Mac like styling, I don’t have 3D effects turned on and don’t want them, the dock on the left is unnecessary clutter but if I wanted one there are plenty of docks available without this being the default. We are told we can use the Classic 2D Gnome desktop if we don’t like Unity but that this will eventually disappear when Gnome Shell arrives and Gnome 2 is depreciated. My thoughts for Gnome Shell are much the same I just don’t want to go there so the hunt starts for an alternative. I’ve already tested Lubuntu with it’s LXDE desktop and although I like the styling it’s still a bit basic. So for now Xubuntu with it’s Xfce desktop is becoming my test o/s. I’m currently running Natty Xubuntu testing and loving it.


2, January 2011

Ok so I’ve had my Sheevaplug since January 2009 and have now bricked it at least 3 times trying to be too clever by half! As it’s getting to be a rugular thing and it always takes me hours to work out what to do, here are my instructions.

I have used the same info. from the page below and added/changed it to reflect my process, please read both to make sure you understand what you are doing! as I take no reponsibility for errors blah, blah etc.etc.

I found the “instructions”, script & packages on this site

SheevaPlug Installer Page;


but to be honest they are a bit difficult to follow for a bit of a noob so I’ve adapted them a bit.

The installer will reflash a bricked plug & can be used to install another distro [I’ve used Debian Squeeze this time] but if you just want it back to “factory settings” use the packages as they are.

My plug is the BFLS one supplied with Ubuntu Jaunty on the internal flash card and the PC I will use to reflash it has Ubuntu Jaunty on it so although the scipt includes Windows support I won’t mention it here, see the above page for details.

The runme.php would not run on Ubuntu 10.10 as the version of python on Ubuntu 10.10 has depreciated some terms. I got round this at the time by installing the old 32 bit Karmic Ubuntu and using that but since then I have found the possible answers in this post


but not tested the solution yet although I have saved copies of the files it talks about for future use, contact me if you need them.

If you can get onto the plug then backup your stuff as this script will delete the lot, be Warned

First Download the tarball from


This includes all the files you need to re flash your sheevaplug with the default install of Ubuntu Jaunty. Check out this post http://plugcomputer.org/plugforum/index.php?topic=878.0 if you want to Install a Debian system, you can either download the pre-built Lenny or Squeeze rootfs.tar.gz files or use the script that mgillespie has created.

You now need to add the following packages to your host PC, cu, php5-cli, and libftdi1, so install with the following commands in a [Terminal];

$ sudo apt-get install cu

$ sudo apt-get install php5-cli


$ sudo apt-get install libftdi1

adding libftdi1 fixes the error message “openocd/openocd: error while loading shared libraries: libftdi.so.1: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory” latter on.

You now connect the Sheevaplug to your PC with the USB lead [supplied] and issue this command in a [Terminal];

$ cu -s 115200 -l /dev/ttyUSB1

Note: [you may need to try cu -s 115200 -l /dev/ttyUSB0 my plug seemed to use either!]

If you get any sort of error message along the lines of

cu: open (/dev/ttyUSB1): No such file or directory
cu: /dev/ttyUSB1: Line in use

you need to issue the following commands in a [Terminal] to remove then add the driver support and re try.

$ sudo rmmod ftdi_sio

followed by

$ sudo modprobe ftdi_sio vendor=0x9e88 product=0x9e8f

If you now get on then you can proceed to the task at hand, if not it’s time to Google!. However I found that I could not get onto the plug sometimes and then realised that the plug end connection of the usb PC to plug cable was working itself out socket in the plug.


1. Prepare an empty USB stick that is FAT16/32 formatted. [Note: the 2 USB sticks I used were not detected by the plug even though I had used 1 of then before to unbrick my plug, be warned]. Re formatting and unplugging safely etc.etc did not help.

2. Extract the tarball you downloaded earlier into a folder on your PC (for example: ~/plug)

3. Edit the ~/plug/uboot/uboot-env/uboot-mmc-custom.txt or uboot-nand-custom.txt file to the correct MAC address according to the MAC address on the back of the Plug (default set to ethaddr 00:50:43:01:c1:e6). If your system is to boot from the internal flash then it’s the nand file you change, if it boots from a flash card in the side slot it’s the mmc file you change.

4. Copy all the files from ~/plug/installer to the USB stick.
NOTE: that the files should be written to the root directory of the USB stick. For example:

$ sudo cp -a ~/plug/installer/* /media/usb-pen/

5. You should now have a copy of the following;

  1. Init ramdisk (initrd)
  2. Kernel modules (modules.tar.gz)
  3. README.txt
  4. Root file-system (rootfs.tar.gz) Note if you are installing Debian, replace this file with the Debian version you have either downloaded or created with the mgillespie’s script.
  5. ubuntu-sheevaplug.sh
  6. Kernel (uImage)

6. Copy the uboot image (named uboot.bin) to the ~/plug/uboot/ directory, if it’s not there, mine was.

7. Safely remove the USB stick from the host PC, power off the plug and plug the USB stick into the Plug’s USB host interface (not via a USB HUB I disconnected all other periferals also!)

8. Connect the Plug to your PC with it’s USB cable.

9. On your PC in a [Terminal] again change to the working directory

$ cd ~/plug

and run the runme.php file with the command;

sudo php runme.php and either nand or mmc, nand if your system is on the internal flash mmc if on an external card, in my case;

$ sudo php runme.php nand

If you get an error message along these lines of;

Error: unable to open ftdi device: device not found
Runtime error, file “command.c”, line 469:
****    openocd FAILED
****    Is the mini USB cable connected?
****    Try powering down, then replugging the Sheevaplug

then try issuing these commands in a [Terminal] to delete and reload the driver, then retry;

$ sudo rmmod ftdi_sio
$ sudo modprobe ftdi_sio vendor=0x9e88 product=0x9e8f

[and make sure the USB cable at the plug end is firmly in]

If all goes well the process should start and end a couple of minutes later with a “beep” to indicate that the uboot install process has finished with the following message. [no beep on my plug]

****   U-boot should be up and running now. Open your console …

Now, open another Terminal  and log with this command

$ cu -s 115200 -l /dev/ttyUSB1

if you get this message;

## Booting image at 00800000 …
Bad Magic Number

as I did when using the first USB stick, then the process probably has not found the USB Stick and not loaded the o/s. You could try running the command;

run recover1

but in my case it just did not like the USB stick and I had to use another

If all goes well you should now see the o/s being installed with the final lines being..

* Starting kernel log daemon…
Ubuntu 9.04 ubuntu ttyS0

ubuntu login:                                                          [ OK ]
* Starting OpenBSD Secure Shell server sshd         [ OK ]
* Starting periodic command scheduler crond        [ OK ]
* Restarting OpenBSD Secure Shell server sshd     [ OK ]

with just an unhelpful flashing curser, in the centre of the last line!

After pressing [Enter] you get:

Ubuntu 9.04 ubuntu ttyS0

ubuntu login:

Just login with the default user root and password nosoup4u


New Years Resolution 2011

31, December 2010

Why not consider donating some of your spare CPU cycles to the Folding@Home Project, Their goal is to understand protein folding, misfolding, and related diseases and we can help by doing the calculations they need doing using our spare CPU cycles. You can join teams and are allocated points for the work units you fold to give you an incentive other than help out the search for cures for various diseases.

I started Folding at the beginning of 2010 for Team Ubuntu [id:45104]as a New Years Resolution hoping to get into the top 1000 Team Ubuntu user listing by the end of the year and have managed to get to 241 today having completed 420 Work Units gaining 143103 Points. Why not join the Team see the Recruiting notice here and help a good cause, my New Years Resolution for 2011?, to double my points, and as always loose weight, become rich and retire.

Happy New Year All

iPod jailbreak

20, December 2010

How I jailbroke my iPod

In a Terminal;
$ sudo apt-get install libgpod4

Now connect your iPod using the USB cable provided and it should auto mount, you now need to navigate to /media to determine the mount point of your iPod [mine show up as /media/MY_IPOD. your iPod needs a SysInfo file adding to it so that it is identified by your system, I found this option to created worked first time. type or copy and paste the following into a Terminal after the prompt

$ sudo lsusb -v | grep -i Serial

this should give you a result similar to this;

iSerial 3 000D27002446H699
iSerial 1 0000:00:13.2
iSerial 0
iSerial 1 0000:00:13.1
iSerial 1 0000:00:13.0

The 16 digit number is the iPod’s FirewireID, now type or copy and paste the following into a Terminal after the prompt

$ sudo gedit /media/MY_IPOD/iPod_Control/Device/SysInfo

replacing /media/MY_IPOD with the path and name of your iPod. My iPod had one entry already of ModelNumStr: xB147 so I added a new line as follows;

ModelNumStr: xB147
FirewireGuid: 000D27002446H699

and re-saved it to the iPod. This allows it to be identified by linux programs and should now allow your music player to find it [fingers crossed].

ISO Testing Natty

1, December 2010

ISO Testing Natty Alpha 1

Testing PC details: hardware

Downloaded the testing iso from http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/daily-live/20101130.1/ using zsync

first install zsync

$ sudo apt-get install zsync

then I created a folder called iso-testing and copied my last Meerkat iso into it then created a script called iso-testing.sh as follows

## created by Martin Cooper ##
echo “open iso testing folder:…”
cd ~/iso-testing
echo “Now check local iso with current iso and update if out of date…”
## Alpa 1 iso location ##
zsync -i *.iso http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/daily-live/20101130.1/natty-desktop-i386.iso.zsync
echo “ok all done now..”

The -i *.iso makes zsync check any iso image in the folder to see if it is an up to date version of the version of ubuntu we have named in the download URL, in this case natty-desktop-i386.iso and if not use it as a base only downloading the files that have changed.

Once that was done and the iso was burned to a DVD [the current Alpha1 iso is too big to fit a CD] I booted it up in the test pc.

The iso booted ok but to a Live desktop with wallpaper, an examples folder and an install link but no gnome panels top and bottom. The graphics card I have will need a restricted driver adding before it [maybe] supports the new Unity desktop and there does not seem to be a fall-back option for unsupported graphics cards to give users the option to update the rivers yet. So for me the test was a fail!

I then decided to complete another of the Tests in the ISO Testing Tracker http://iso.qa.ubuntu.com/, the free software only install. I knew I would still have no Desktop but I wanted Natty on the testing PC and wanted the opportunity to continue testing up to Alpha2. The install was to the 1st of the 2 Hard Drives on the PC, the 2nd currently has the LinuxMint Debian rolling release on it.

The result was the same no Desktop panels, just the revolting purple wallpaper. I could however open a Terminal using Ctrl+Alt+T and confirm that there was no non free software installed on the PC using the command line tests given in the testing script.

Verify that neither the restricted nor multiverse archives have been enabled:

$ grep “restricted\|multiverse” /etc/apt/sources.list | grep -v “^#”

should return nothing

Verify that the linux-restricted-modules package has not been installed:

$ dpkg -l linux-restricted-* | grep -vE “^[a-z]n”

should return no packages

so that works but no usable desktop!

To fix this I found this post http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p=10184462&postcount=10 by lidex

Opened a Terminal using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+T, then entered

$ gconf-editor

and once the gconf editor opened navigated to desktop/gnome/session/required_components/panel and changed “” to gnome-panel then rebooted.

The second major problem was that the install of Natty has wiped the LinuxMint boot options from Grub so to fix this I followed this http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1581099 thread by drs305 from 3. as I could get into Ubuntu and had a working Internet connection.

3. Purge Grub 2 packages. The next command will remove grub, grub-pc (Grub 2) and grub-common.

* Here is what you will do:

* Press ENTER to continue.

* Read the warning during the install about removing the bootloader. TAB to highlight “” and press ENTER.

* If you are sure you have never had Grub legacy on the current installation you may omit “grub” from the next command (apt-get purge grub-pc grub-common).


$ sudo apt-get purge grub grub-pc grub-common

4. Reinstall the grub packages. Here is what will happen:

* You will be given the opportunity to add extra kernel options to the kernel line. If you don’t know, you probably don’t need them ; TAB to highlight “” and press ENTER.
* Read the installation notes. TAB to “” to continue.
* When presented with the device option, use the UP/DN keys to select the correct drive (sdX).

Make sure the installation drive [*] /dev/sdX has an asterisk next to it ( example: [*] /dev/sda ). If it doesn’t, highlight it and press the SPACE bar to select it.
Do not select a partition ( example: [ ] /dev/sda5 , etc).

* TAB to “” and press ENTER. When it has finishing the installation, you should have Grub 2 installed.


$ sudo apt-get install grub-common grub-pc

5. Update the Grub 2 files . This command shouldn’t be necessary, but it won’t hurt to update Grub once more before exiting.

$ sudo update-grub

and rebooted to test, all is right with grub2 again.

Testing Alpha [Edit: ]

Just added the restricted nVidia driver [tried both v173 & 96] and both somehow removed the Gnome panels again, with the fix above not helping as the gnome-panel option is still in place. When I revert back to no restricted driver the panels return.



Apache Server [simple]

1, December 2010

So I wanted to have a web album of my photos on my local network so needed my server to be able to serve up the web pages.

install apache;

$ sudo apt-get install apache2

open your favorite web browser and type http://localhost into the address bar, if it work you should get a page saying so.

Now stop the service with;

$ sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 stop

and edit to config file with;

$ sudo gedit /etc/apache2/sites-available/default

amend the directory path to your site from the default /var/www/localhost/htdocs to something like /home/bob/www/localhost/htdocs so that you can find and add docs without being root etc. Add your site index.html file to this folder and restart the service with;

$ sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 start

and point your browser at the site again with http://localhost or http://my_servers_name if you have given your server a host name on your network.


1, December 2010

Using the gconf tool to make changes to your desktop from the command line. These allow you to script changes you make every time to upgrade.

These have been tested on the Gnome Desktop on Lynx & Maverick.

Copy and paste these commands into a Terminal [Applications], [Accessories], [Terminal]

## Add icons to the [System] menu. ##
gconftool-2 --type Boolean --set /desktop/gnome/interface/menus_have_icons True

## Remove shutdown “Do you really want to do this 60 second count down” question ##
gconftool-2 --type Boolean --set /apps/indicator-session/suppress_logout_restart_shutdown True

## Return to old Update notification icon in top menu ##
gconftool-2 --type Boolean --set /apps/update-notifier/auto_launch False

gconftool-2 --type int --set /apps/update-notifier/regular_auto_launch_interval 0

## Add Banner message to GDM ##
sudo -u gdm gconftool-2 --set --type string /apps/gdm/simple-greeter/banner_message_text “Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat 64 Bit”

sudo -u gdm gconftool-2 --set --type string /apps/gdm/simple-greeter/banner_message_text_nochooser “Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat 64 Bit”

sudo -u gdm gconftool-2 --set --type boolean /apps/gdm/simple-greeter/banner_message_enable true

## Set wallpaper ##
gconftool-2 --type string --set /desktop/gnome/background/picture_filename /home/Pictures/My_Wallpaper.jpg

Jalbum, create Photo web albums

24, October 2010

This is the software I use to create my photo album on the web. I used it when I ran XP and was glad to see it came as a Linux option. It automatically creates the album in variety of skins and there is then an option to FTP the result direct from the program to your site. Visit the jalbum.net site and if you decide to user this program, download the DEB for Ubuntu.

JAlbum needs a Sun Java 1.5 (or later) virtual machine to run so first we need to open the [Synaptic Package Manager] search for and install sun-java6-jre or later, from the listed packages and install it.We then need to make sure it is the default Java VM running on your PC.

Open a [Terminal] type or copy and paste;

sudo update-alternatives --config java

which should give you an output like this;

There are 2 alternatives which provide `java’.
Selection Alternative
* 1 /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun/jre/bin/java
+ 2 /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-openjdk/jre/bin/java<
Press enter to keep the default[*], or type selection number:

Select java-6-sun by typing the number next to the correct version.

Now double click on the DEB file currently jalbum_8.12-1_all.deb and the Ubuntu Software Centre should open and allow you to install. once finished you should have an icon for jalbum in [Applications], [Graphics].

Tomboy blogposter

20, October 2010

Post post to your WordPress blog from Tomboy.

Now available in Maverick repositories using:

$ sudo apt-get install tomboy-blogposter

In Tomboy Notes, go to [Edit], [Preferences], [Add-ins], expand [Tools] click on “Post note to your blog” click on [Preferences] click on [Add] and fill in details of your WordPress blog, the URL should be in the form http://your_blog_name.wordpress.com/wp-app.php/posts You can now open upload a note as a blog post by clicking on the [Tools] option (cog wheels) and selecting the [Post note to your blog] option.