Archive for October, 2011

Linux From Scratch : The Beginning…

October 31st, 2011 1 comment

Hi Everyone,

If you don’t remember me, I’m Dave. Last time for the experiment I used SuSE, which I regretted. This time I decided to use Linux From Scratch like Jake, as I couldn’t think of another distribution that I haven’t used in some way or another before. Let me tell you… It’s been quite the experience so far.

The Initial Setup

Unlike Jake, I opted not to use the LFS Live CD, as I figured it would be much easier to start with a Debian Live CD. By the sounds of it, I made a good decision. I had network right out of the gate, which made it easy to copy and paste awful sed commands.

The initial part of the install was relatively painless for me. Well, except that one of the LFS mirrors had a version from 2007 listed as their latest stable build, setting me back about an hour. I followed the book, waited quite a while for some stuff to compile, and I was in my brand new … command-line. Ok, it it’s not very exciting at first, but I was jumping for joy when I ran the following command and got the result I did:

root [ ~ ]# ping
PING ( 56 data bytes
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=56 time=32.967 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=56 time=33.127 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=56 time=40.045 ms


Series of Tubes

The internet was working! Keep reading if you want to hear what awful thing happened next…

Read more…

I am currently running ArchLinux (x86_64).
Check out my profile for more information.

Linux from Scratch: A Cautionary Tale, Part 1

October 30th, 2011 1 comment

And I’m started with Linux from Scratch! Here are some helpful pointers for anyone considering running LFS on their own. Caution: this is highly nerdy and keyworded to hell to hopefully allow your favourite search engine to grab solutions from this post.

Getting Started, AKA: Use a Distribution You Know

LFS needs an existing Linux environment. Don’t try and use unetbootin on the LFS liveCD (I used lfslivecd-x86_64-6.3-r2145-min.iso to get started, but there is a newer revision 2160 available on one of the mirrors.) unetbootin in this configuration is just a bag of hurt and you’ll spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get your root volume to work, so just burn a CD.

If I was building LFS again I’d have started from a stable Debian base or other Linux distribution where I’m comfortable and have network access – there are a number of reasons below I suggest this, but you really want your host system kernel to be 2.6.25 or higher.

Make sure to have all the patches from are downloaded and in a location you can access from your host distribution. USB sticks are OK for this if you don’t have network access (mount the stick, and then copy the patches and packages to the sources directory). Use DownThemAll or a similar mass downloading application/extension on the patches page to save time and grief.

Watch What You Mount

Augh, out of space! It’s quite possible to mount /mnt/lfs on two partitions at the same time by missing a directory, like this:

$ mount /dev/sdb3 /mnt/lfs
$ mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/lfs

Oops – I missed /boot at the end of the second mount command. To confirm this before copying any files, “mount” should show only one partition active at /mnt/lfs. Since my /dev/sdb1 partition was only 200MB I got to the GCC extraction step and was promptly disappointed. I ended up unmounting everything, recreating the filesystem (mke2fs -v /dev/sdb1) and then remounting (mkdir -pv /mnt/lfs/boot; mount -t ext2 /dev/sdb1 /mnt/lfs/boot).

For more tales of installation havoc, keep reading…

Read more…

I am currently running various *BSD variants for this Experiment.
I currently run a mix of Windows, OS X and Linux systems for both work and personal use.
For Linux, I prefer Ubuntu LTS releases without Unity and still keep Windows 7 around for gaming.
Check out my profile for more information.

How to enable reboot/shutdown in KDE on Gentoo

October 30th, 2011 No comments

Yeah… apparently the ability to restart or shutdown your system using a normal user account from within KDE SC is not something that is installed by default. In order to accomplish this you need to compile and install the kde-misc/kshutdown package using the following command from a root terminal:

emerge kde-misc/kshutdown

I also had to create a new file called /etc/portage/package.accept_keywords in order for this to work. Inside that file just put the following text


I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint Debian Edition.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
Check out my profile for more information.
Categories: Gentoo, KDE, Tyler B Tags: , ,

Gentoo (A.K.A. “Compiling!”)

October 30th, 2011 No comments

For this version of the experiment I have chosen to try my hand at installing Gentoo. Gentoo, for those who don’t know, or who weren’t following Jake’s posts during the original experiment, is a fully customizable distribution where you have to compile and install all of your applications from source code downloads. Thankfully they do offer some excellent package management tools, Portage in particular, that help automate this process.


I suppose a bit of background is the best place to start. During the original experiment I ran Fedora which, while having a whole host of issues of its own, was more or less a straight forward experience. Since that time I’ve dabbled here and there with other distributions, Ubuntu, openSUSE, Linux Mint, among others. For this experiment I wanted a bit of a challenge. I now know the basics, and then some, about running a day-to-day desktop Linux system but I still don’t fully understand all of the inner workings that are going on under the hood. That’s where my choice of Gentoo comes in.

Getting Started

I began by following the rather excellent Gentoo Handbook which thankfully got me to the point where I was able to boot my machine, without the installation media, into a kernel that I had personally configured and compiled. To say that this was smooth sailing probably isn’t accurate, but considering what was actually involved in getting to this point, and how quickly I managed to do it, is a testament to how easy the guide actually is to follow along with.

One thing I would stress to Linux users who may want to try Gentoo and are coming from a more user friendly distribution like Ubuntu is to make sure to get a list of hardware before you start. Run lshw in your Ubuntu (or whatever) install and save the output somewhere. This will show you the list of hardware devices and more importantly the drivers required to run them correctly. I ran into a snag early on where my network card wasn’t working even though Gentoo claimed to be loading the drivers correctly. A quick modprobe later of the driver that was shown to be in use from my earlier install, tg3, and I was back and Internet enabled. Sadly even the lshw output didn’t provide a whole lot of direction when it came to picking and choosing some of the more obscure configuration options for my kernel.

The Challenge

So what do you do when you can finally turn your computer on and boot into your kernel? Well install X I suppose. Unfortunately it was this step that caused me more grief than any of the others. You see apparently you’re supposed to remember what graphics card is in your machine before you try and build a kernel that supports it…

Following along with the X Server Configuration Guide I made it all the way up until the point when I had to specify which “in-kernel firmware blobs” I wanted to compile into my kernel. After, literally, hours of compiling X and then a series of trial and error attempts I finally found a combination that seemed to work. For my own reference the only firmware blob I seem to require is


The Wait

I finally had a system that could start X and present me with multiple(!) graphical terminals. By this point I had sunk about ~5 hours into this project. Now it was time to try setting up a desktop environment. My two main choices were GNOME 3.x or KDE SC. I opted for KDE for two reasons:

  1. I hadn’t used KDE 4.x in a couple of releases and didn’t mind it last time I had tried it
  2. I have yet to try GNOME 3.x but since it is quite the departure from the 2.x series I figured I would go with what I know for now and maybe try GNOME 3.x later

Pulling up the Gentoo KDE guide I began my compilation of KDE SC.

emerge -av kde-meta

More than 400 packages needed to be compiled and installed. My system, a Core2Duo at 2.4Ghz and 4GB of RAM, took approximately 24 hours to finish this single process. Gentoo is certainly not a system that you can expect to have up and running in an afternoon if you’re expecting to have a fully working desktop environment.


USE Flags are ridiculous. I understand the concept for them but the fact that you have to continuously add to this list in order to compile programs you explicitly told it to install is a bit much. If you don’t know what a USE Flag is consider yourself lucky. For those thinking about installing Gentoo, don’t worry you’ll know soon enough.

Be sure to change the root password and add any user accounts after you chroot into your new installation. Otherwise you’ll end up like me and boot into a system that you can’t log into!

Next Steps

Well I’d like to finish setting up my desktop. I now have KDE installed but there seems to be some missing components that I hope won’t require a re-compilation… I’ll let you know how that turns out. I also need to sort out my wireless card and get that working. But hey at least for now I can browse the web in my new installation!

I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint Debian Edition.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
Check out my profile for more information.
Categories: Gentoo, KDE, Tyler B Tags: , , ,

Experiment 2.0

October 30th, 2011 No comments

As Jake pointed out in the previous post we have once again decided to run The Linux Experiment. This iteration will once again following the rule where you are not allowed to use a distribution that you have used in the past. We also have a number of new individuals taking part in the experiment: Aíne B, Matt C, Travis G and Warren G. Be sure to check back often as we post about our experiences running our chosen distributions.


Here are the new rules we are playing by for this version of the experiment:

  1. You must have absolutely no prior experience with the distribution you choose
  2. You must use the distribution on your primary computer and it must be your primary day-to-day computing environment
  3. The experiment runs from November 1st, 2011 until January 31st, 2011
  4. You must document your experience
  5. After committing to a distribution you may not later change to a different one


For fun we’ve decided to create a series of challenges to try throughout the experiment. This list can be found here and may be updated as we add more throughout the course of the experiment.

I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint Debian Edition.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
Check out my profile for more information.
Categories: Linux, Tyler B Tags: ,

Preparing for a new experiment

October 27th, 2011 1 comment

We’re currently in discussions to begin a new Linux Experiment for 2011. Stay tuned to the website as we should have new posts, a new podcast and new contributors very soon! If there’s anything you’d like to see us try out or do differently this time, please post your thoughts in the comments section.

Categories: Jake B Tags:

Ubuntu 11.10′s WiFi crashes my router

October 19th, 2011 9 comments

No seriously, it does. Whenever it makes a connection to the router it causes it to enter some bad state wherein it refuses to allow any connections to occur. This also has the effect of booting all other machines from the network. Apparently I’m not the only one to have this problem either.

I did manage to find a bit of a work around though:

  1. Set your wireless router to Mixed B/G mode only (yes I know, you lose out on N by doing this…)
  2. Enter the following into a terminal:
    echo "options iwlagn 11n_disable=1" | tee /etc/modprobe.d/iwlagn.confg
    sudo modprobe -rf iwlagn
    sudo modprobe -v iwlagn
    sudo service network-manager restart
  3. Maybe reboot?

I’ve also heard of some people getting it to work by enabling this instead of disabling it. To do so simply change the 11n_disable=1 line above to 11n_disable=0.

Hopefully they will have this annoying bug fixed soon.

I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint Debian Edition.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
Check out my profile for more information.
Categories: Tyler B, Ubuntu Tags: , , , ,

How to install sun-java6-jdk and Netbeans in Ubuntu 11.10

October 14th, 2011 9 comments

If you’ve recently upgraded to Ubuntu 11.10 and are a developer you may notice some things missing. For one there is no longer an option to install the sun-java6-jdk or JRE from the repositories. Worse they also removed the Netbeans IDE. Apparently this had something to do with licenses but if you’re going to offer MP3 support the least you could do is make software like this available for those who are willing to look for it.

Anyway with that rant out of the way I did manage to find a way to install both.

Install sun-java6-jdk

Following the instructions on this excellent post I was able to successfully install sun-java6-jdk using the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ferramroberto/java
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jdk sun-java6-plugin

There are alternative instructions for installing Java 7 as well.

Install Netbeans

My first attempt at installing both was to head to the official Oracle Java website and download the Netbeans + JDK installer. Unfortunately the installer seems to crash in this version of Ubuntu. However since the above process had installed the JRE I was able to simply grab the Netbeans only installer from Oracle which ended up working surprisingly well. Just remember to run it using sudo if you want other users to be able to use it as well.

I am currently running a variety of distributions, primarily Linux Mint Debian Edition.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
Check out my profile for more information.
Categories: Tyler B, Ubuntu Tags: , ,

Richard M. Stallman: Troll

October 10th, 2011 15 comments

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you may not be aware that Steve Jobs, co-founder and legendary CEO of Apple Inc., has recently died after a long and protracted battle with pancreatic cancer. After the announcement of his death, many news outlets (tech-oriented and otherwise) ran lengthy tributes to a man who has forever (and often disruptively) altered more industries than any other in recent memory.

The day after Jobs’ death, Free Software visionary and GNU Project founder Richard M. Stallman had this to say about the man:

Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died.

As Chicago Mayor Harold Washington said of the corrupt former Mayor Daley, “I’m not glad he’s dead, but I’m glad he’s gone.” Nobody deserves to have to die – not Jobs, not Mr. Bill, not even people guilty of bigger evils than theirs. But we all deserve the end of Jobs’ malign influence on people’s computing.

Unfortunately, that influence continues despite his absence. We can only hope his successors, as they attempt to carry on his legacy, will be less effective.

Upon finding this post via Twitter, my immediate reaction was a deep loss of respect for Stallman, a man whose contributions to the Free Software movement cannot be understated. The way that I see it, Stallman and Jobs are one in the same. Both are (or were, in the case of the latter) visionaries, both contributed immeasurably to an industry that employs, informs, and entertains me on a daily basis, and both are/were zealots when it came to their personal opinions about software.

Now I’m not an Apple guy. Far from it, in fact. I don’t own a single Apple product, I use Linux whenever and wherever possible, and I only break from the four essential freedoms when obtaining and enjoying media that cannot be accessed otherwise. But regardless of your thoughts on Steve Jobs, the man deserves your respect.

While Stallman qualified his statement by noting that nobody deserves to die, he also focused his personal fanaticism when it comes to the perceived threat of non-free software directly on the shoulders of one man in a world of many.

There’s something about Freedom that Stallman doesn’t seem to (or want to, as all accounts paint him as a pretty smart dude) understand. It’s a simple point, and one that needs to be reiterated often: Freedom is the right to choose. In politics, in products, and in computing, freedom is the right to choose what is best for you.

Steve Jobs put his ideas and his products into the free market, and paying customers often chose them above those of Stallman. Perhaps those customers got shafted, but when faced with a choice between the freedom to edit configuration files and the beautiful design of an Apple product, they unsurprisingly chose the latter.

That’s freedom, whether you like it or not. Fuck Richard Stallman.

Further Reading:

On my Laptop, I am running Linux Mint 12.
On my home media server, I am running Ubuntu 12.04
Check out my profile for more information.

Fix for mount error(12): Cannot allocate memory

October 2nd, 2011 15 comments

Do you have the following situation:

  • You’ve got a share on Windows (XP, Vista, 7) that you’re trying to access from a Linux system, in this case Ubuntu.
  • Mounted through /etc/fstab or directly through the command line.
  • Initially, it works great, but then loses the mountpoint – you’ll go to, say, /mnt/server/mountpoint but there are no directory contents. “mount” shows the path as still mounted.
  • umount’ing the directory and then trying to remount it provides this gem of a message:
    mount error(12): Cannot allocate memory
    Refer to the mount.cifs(8) manual page (e.g. man mount.cifs)

Of course, since you’re probably a reasonable system administrator, you go and check the memory allotment. top looks fine and nothing else on the system is complaining.

The solution, kindly provided by Alan LaMielle’s blog, gives a registry fix on the Windows side of things. In case that link ever breaks, here is the summary of what needs to happen on the Windows system:

  • In HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management, set the LargeSystemCache key to 1 (hex).
  • In HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters, set the Size key to 3 (hex).’
  • Restart the “Server” service and its dependencies (on my Windows 7 box, these were “Computer Browser” and “Homegroup Listener”, and I had to restart the service twice for the dependencies to also come back up.) Alternatively you can just restart the Windows system as you’re probably due for a large set of updates anyway.

Then re-run the mount command (for entries defined in /etc/fstab, use sudo mount -a) and your shares should be restored to their former glory.

Categories: Jake B Tags: , , ,