Propensity – feedback wanted

2007/09/02 4:37:08

I have been using ubuntu for quite some time, and I have ubuntu installed on 20+ computers at one time. I find myself always installing ubuntu on a different computer. One of the things that I always do is install some programs that don’t come stock with ubuntu like geany, or miro. At first I had a simple shell script that I ran that aptituded (lol) all the programs I wanted to install. But soon that was not enough because different computers had different uses and installing miro or gaim guifications on a work computer, or a computer that will be going back to a client is out of the question. Another thing I wanted was to updated the source.list file with new repositories cleanly. And so eventually that shell script involved into a python program.

I have spent a bit of my summer cleaning up that python program and the result is propensity (I looked for synonyms for aptitude) and now I figure its almost ready to be released into the public. I have uploaded both a deb file and the source to my website, and would love some feedback.

Some features that I would like to add before I release it are:

  • I would like propensity to generate a standalone shell script that could be used to standalone install the package
  • Icon
  • Splash screen
  • Ability to add your own programs and save them (so you can load them from a file at a later date) Thanks Ed
  • Documentation

To sum up you can get the deb file here, and the source here. Thanks for any feedback you have.

Update 01: I made a post to the ubuntu forums and posted a screenshot
Update 02: I have been dugg.
Update 03: Propensity has only been tested on feisty.


Linux live CD as a window recovery tool

2007/07/27 13:31:09

As a computer geek one of the first things people say to me when learn that I’m a computer geek is “can you fix my computer”. Now depending on my mood or how exactly they asked, offering beer is always a good idea, I usually respond with “I don’t use windows, and haven’t used it in years”. But if your nice and its convenient for me sure Ill give it a shot.

The other day a friend of mines computer laptop had stopped booting, during the boot it would get the blue screen of death. She had all ready called IBM, she got her laptop before Lenovo bought the thinkpad name, who said the hard drive was most likely dead. Seeing as she had lost all her data I first scolded her for not creating proper backups, and then told her that if she brought her computer to me I would give it a shot at fixing it.

Popping a Ubuntu live cd into her computer and then plugging in an IPod we where able to recover most of the data on her computer. To me it seemed second nature to be able to run an operating system off a live cd in order to recover data, but to her it seemed foreign since windows would not boot she had assumed all was lost.

Is this really still the case for windows, what do you do if windows wont boot (and yes safe mode and the “IBM recovery button” would not boot)?

Disclamer: This is not a windows bash but is there no way to yank your data off the computer if it wont boot other than taking out the hard drive?


GraphThing and xchm

2007/07/14 17:38:07

On of the best features that linux has in my opinion is synaptic, I have said this before and I will say it again. Why is synaptic so great? You can fire it up and search for any package you like and then with a few clicks install that program. I have recently had two great finds with synaptic, the first came in my algorithms class I was sitting at school doing some homework and one of my buddies asked me if I had a program to find a maximum flow of a graph. Simply by searching for “max flow” in synaptic I was able to find a program called GraphThing that lets you draw graphs and then run all sorts of simple algorithms on them like, max flow, minimum spanning tree, and may more. GraphThing dose have some faults however it is unable to have an edge to a node with capasity of 3 and an edge in the opsit direction with capasity 5 but it is a great application for starters. then a Funny thing is not moments later do we find some notes online but they are stored in chm format, once again I fire up synaptic this time I search for “chm” and moments later Im using xchm a great chm viewer.


What great programs have you found using synaptic?


Ubuntu root access.

2007/06/20 13:51:58

One of the greatest features that Linux has to offer, is the ability to customize your version so that it works the way you like it. Being a computer science student I have many friends that run linux, and many running windows (most dual boot).

With some of my windows friends there is a bit of an on going war about who’s computer is better, IBM vs Dell, Windows vs Linux vs Mac, Ubuntu vs Fedora Firefox vs IE, Vista vs XP. The things to debate are endless, its mostly all in good fun but it can sometimes get heated. The great thing is that usually when someone finds a “flaw” with ubuntu I can fix it on the spot if I so chose. Common arguments are that the brown is ugly (I love the brow), all I need do is fire up beryl or compiz (gl desktop). And the argument is shutdown.

The other day it was pointed out to me that a “flaw” was that if ubuntu was booted into recovery mode that the user was then given root access without the need of a password. I know that /boot/grub/menu.lst controls grub so I open it up “sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst” and search for the word “password” at line 28 I find

## password ['--md5'] passwd
# If used in the first section of a menu file, disable all interactive editing
# control (menu entry editor and command-line) and entries protected by the
# command ‘lock’
# e.g. password topsecret
# password –md5 $1$gLhU0/$aW78kHK1QfV3P2b2znUoe/
# password topsecrete

I change it to

## password ['--md5'] passwd
# If used in the first section of a menu file, disable all interactive editing
# control (menu entry editor and command-line) and entries protected by the
# command ‘lock’
# e.g. password topsecret
# password –md5 $1$gLhU0/$aW78kHK1QfV3P2b2znUoe/
password topsecrete

Go down to the bottom of the file and change

## ## End Default Options ##

title Ubuntu, kernel 2.6.20-16-generic
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.20-16-generic root=UUID=8fdab1e2-1453-4eb3-a8db-a14dbff447d0 ro quiet splash
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.20-16-generic
quiet
savedefault

title Ubuntu, kernel 2.6.20-16-generic (recovery mode)
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.20-16-generic root=UUID=8fdab1e2-1453-4eb3-a8db-a14dbff447d0 ro single
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.20-16-generic

title Ubuntu, kernel 2.6.20-15-generic
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.20-15-generic root=UUID=8fdab1e2-1453-4eb3-a8db-a14dbff447d0 ro quiet splash
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.20-15-generic
quiet
savedefault

title Ubuntu, kernel 2.6.20-15-generic (recovery mode)
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.20-15-generic root=UUID=8fdab1e2-1453-4eb3-a8db-a14dbff447d0 ro single
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.20-15-generic

title Ubuntu, memtest86+
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/memtest86+.bin
quiet

### END DEBIAN AUTOMAGIC KERNELS LIST

to

## ## End Default Options ##

title Ubuntu, kernel 2.6.20-16-generic
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.20-16-generic root=UUID=8fdab1e2-1453-4eb3-a8db-a14dbff447d0 ro quiet splash
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.20-16-generic
quiet
savedefault

title Ubuntu, kernel 2.6.20-16-generic (recovery mode)
lock
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.20-16-generic root=UUID=8fdab1e2-1453-4eb3-a8db-a14dbff447d0 ro single
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.20-16-generic

title Ubuntu, kernel 2.6.20-15-generic
lock
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.20-15-generic root=UUID=8fdab1e2-1453-4eb3-a8db-a14dbff447d0 ro quiet splash
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.20-15-generic
quiet
savedefault

title Ubuntu, kernel 2.6.20-15-generic (recovery mode)
lock
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.20-15-generic root=UUID=8fdab1e2-1453-4eb3-a8db-a14dbff447d0 ro single
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.20-15-generic

title Ubuntu, memtest86+
lock
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/memtest86+.bin
quiet

### END DEBIAN AUTOMAGIC KERNELS LIST

Now not only can the user not access anything but my default boot option with using the very secure password, lol. While I don’t consider it a bug that the user could have gained access to the root before without a password I love how easy it is in Linux to prevent that kind of thing. Now all I need is to set my BIOS password so that the user cant boot of anything but the hard disk without a password.


Finite State Machine

2007/06/05 15:01:44

Part of my goal with this blog is to write about the Ubuntu experience, I’m still working on a wireless writeup but it keeps getting pushed back because everyone knows about Ubuntu wireless. I’m a student at the University of Toronto, and I’m currently taking CSC363 — Computability and Complexity. Anyways I’m doing my first assignment and the first question is to draw a finite state machine. My problem was that I would draw the finite state machine and the figure out that I missed some special case and have to re draw it. Getting frustrated I fired up synaptic and searched for (finite stat machine), synaptic returns four results but the one that catches my eye is graphviz, partly because it has the ubuntu logo beside it meaning its an officially supported package like gaim (anyone find a link to support this, I cant), and partly because of its decryption “rich set of graph drawing tools”. I install it and it all goes well, and then i do what I always do after I install a program, I run it.

I type “graphviz” into the terminal and nothing happens. Well thats weird usualy I can just run programs based off the names I installed them with. I go back to synaptic and check that its installed correctly which it is. So skip to the bottom of the description below and it turns out that graphviz website, all the time that I’m doing this my buddy is sitting beside me trying to find a windows program to draw finite state machines.

Heading over to the website it turns out that they have some great examples of finite state machines and the “source code” that was used to make them. It is at about this time that my buddy finds JFLAP and starts to download it, you have to fill out a bunch of information before you can. A bit more searching on that website and I learn that I can “compile” that source code code to a png image with the following command “ccomps -x fsm.dot | dot | gvpack | neato -s -n2 -Tpng > fsm.png”

Now as a side note the nifty thing is that JFLAP (the program my buddy found) is a jar file so we should be able to run it on linux, while I continued to use graphviz to do my assignment because I liked to type up the finite state machine and then compile it, if you want to test your finite state machine you may want to look into using JFLAP.

After I get my assignment back Ill post my finite state machine and its source if there is interest.


Synergy

2007/04/25 3:49:41

Synergy lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its own display, without special hardware. It’s intended for users with multiple computers on their desk since each system uses its own monitor(s) –http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/

I first learned about synergy about six months ago. At the time I thought it was a great application but my problem was that i didn’t want to set it up. It seemed like a bit of work and well I didn’t really need it.

Today I again read about synergy on lifehacker and again my interest was sparked.

So I fired up synaptic and searched for synergy and I find quicksynergy which is described as “GUI for easy configuration of Synergy” and that’s exactly what it is. After installing quicksynergy which installs synergy as a dependency I can tell you that’s exactly what it is.

I simply Installed it, added the clients to the server (Note that the name of the computer must be used not the IP)

Started the server. Then added the server IP to the client and started that and I was off.

The whole process took less than 10 minutes (Including solving a problem I had where I was putting NaN’s IP instead of its name) and this whole post has been typed from my main computer’s (MinusOne) keyboard on my laptop (NaN). This is definitely a program I seem myself using in the future since I am always using more than one computer, and one of the best features is that it lets me share my cut and paste buffer across the computers. letting me cut on one computer and paste on another.

Got any great ubuntu tips? I would love to hear about them. earobinson@ubuntu.com

Note: “You should be aware that synergy does not provide any secure connection. Anyone who has access to your network segment may sniff the keystrokes and get a password typed from one computer to another for example.” — Jeremie Corbie That being said its still great for controlling my music, or video, or just typing on another computer. Just not for typing passwords. More Info


With Democracy Everyone Wins

2007/04/19 1:25:38

 Warning: There are reports that Democracy dose not work with feisty, see the comments for more info.

Every once in a while you find that application that is truly amazing. With the up coming launch of Feisty, Democracy Player is the king of podcasts and vlogs for me.

With Democracy you can subscribe to any podcast or vlogs rss feed and like an RSS reader it will alert you when that feed has new content. Not only will It alert you of new content but it will download it for you this is great for vlogs like diggnation or ze frank (even though the show is now over) for two different reasons. diggnation is a weekly vlog but is is quite large and takes some time do download, before Democracy I was forced to download the show and wait, or play it while it downloaded which when my Internet connection was slow caused me to have to restart the show 3 or 4 times.

With the arrival of Democracy I’m now watching more and more vlogs some worth highlighting include
• NBC nightly news
• Global National nightly news
• Diggnation
• Ask a ninja
• I’m sure I’m missing some. See the screenshot

Great so Democracy is good for people, but you said everyone wins, what gives?

If a player like Democracy where to become the norm everyone would win. Some of Democracys features include, ranking content and allowing people to search there archive for what interests them, this gives the producers more exposure. Another big problem that producers may have is that as they get more and more users they are using more and more bandwidth. Democracy also solves this problem by letting you subscribe to a feed with torrents instead of actual videos. This lets content providers produce distribute there content without paying for the bandwidth.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.