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Great Success!

November 1st, 2011 No comments

Just a quick note tonight – I finally managed to get a bootable Gentoo system installed!

After my last post, things were looking pretty grim. Instead of continuing to perpetuate the recompile/reboot cycle, I decided to start fresh, in hopes that I had simply missed a step the first time around. With this in mind, I started back at page one of the Gentoo Handbook and worked my way through the entire thing.

When it came time to compile my kernel, I opted for a slightly less error-prone method, and started off by installing Genkernel, a tool that automates some of the kernel creation steps. When running it however, I was sure to pass the –menuconfig parameter, which gave me full control over what modules were included in the final product.

Next, I followed the kernel tutorials in the Gentoo Handbook and on the Gentoo Wiki Asus P5Q-E page. This ensured that I included every component that was necessary for my system.

Once I rebooted the machine, a login prompt came up the first time. Great success indeed!

One little gotcha that’s important to note at this step. On my first login, I didn’t have any network access. Two things that might help:

  1. Open up /etc/conf.d/net in nano and add a line like config_eth0=”dhcp” for each network interface in your machine, where eth0 is the name of the interface. This tells the machine to use DHCP when initializing the device. On most home networks, this will get you an IP address.
  2. Make sure that any required modules are loaded. I have two network interfaces. One uses the sky2 module, and the other uses skge. You can check to ensure that these are loaded with the command lsmod | grep sky2 where sky2 is the name of the module that you’re looking for. If it isn’t loaded, run modprobe sky2 to get it up and running. Note that you may need to recompile your kernel with support for the module in question if you missed it first time ’round.

Tomorrow, I’ll compile an X11 server, and hopefully get started on the GNOME desktop environment. Christ there’s still a lot to do…




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.
Categories: Gentoo, Jon F, kernel, Networking Tags:

Kernel Panic!

November 1st, 2011 2 comments

So like Tyler, I’ve decided to run Gentoo. Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

My experience thus far can be summed up with a single word: frustrating. I spent my first day working through the (excellent) Gentoo Handbook. Like Jake, I found it handy to have run lshw on my system prior to installing Gentoo. This provided me with a list of my hardware that I could refer back to during the installation process, and saved me a few headaches.

At first, my live-cd environment lacked a network connection. My machine has two network interfaces in it. One uses the sky2 kernel module, while the other uses skge. I ran:

modprobe skge
net-setup eth1
[follow on-screen instructions]
ping google.com

and was successful.

On that first day of dicking about, I managed to get all the way to Chapter 10: Configuring the Bootloader. It was at this point, in subchapter 10.d, that I was instructed to reboot the system, as though it would be a relaxing, daisy-scented walk in the park. Not so.

Apparently, the kernel that I’ve managed to compile does not recognize the SATA interface on my motherboard. When I attempt to boot, GRUB hands control off to the kernel, which goes looking for my root partition on /dev/sda3. It then dies with a message like

Kernel panic – not syncing: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on unknown-block(8,3)

This error message is the bane of my existence.

After a great deal of head-vs-desk action, approximately 37 kernel compilations, and a great deal of googling, I managed to find a Gentoo wiki entry that instructs users of my chipset on how to compile their very own working kernel. Tonight, I intend to follow it, in hopes that I can get the system to boot some time soon.

At this rate, I’ll be lucky to have a working desktop by the end of the experiment.




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.
Categories: Gentoo, God Damnit Linux, Jon F, Linux 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.

Ubuntu 11.04 Installer Fail

August 24th, 2011 3 comments

So I decided to take a go at Ubuntu 11.04 in a virtual machine before taking the leap and installing it for real. As I understand it, the new Unity desktop is a pretty major departure from the Gnome 2.x desktop that I’m used to, and I want to see if it’s as bad as it looks in the screenshots.

Unfortunately, I’ve yet to make it to the desktop, as Ubuntu has decided that it will take 42 minutes to download some language packs that I neither want or need.

Didn’t I tell it what language I speak as the first step of the install process? Surely this can be done later.




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.
Categories: God Damnit Linux, Jon F, Ubuntu Tags:

Linux Multimedia Studio on Ubuntu 10.04

July 31st, 2011 1 comment

Recently, Tyler linked me to Linux Multimedia Studio, a Fruityloops-type application for Linux. Since I’m big into music recording and production, he figured that I’d be interested in trying it out, and he was right. Unfortunately, the developers of same were not as interested.

To start off, I installed the application from a PPA with the following terminal commands:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:dns/sound
sudo aptitude update
sudo aptitude install lmms

After the install process finished, I tried to launch the application from the command line, only to see a bunch of nasty error messages:

jonf@THE-LINUX-EXPERIMENT:~$ sudo lmms
bt_audio_service_open: connect() failed: Connection refused (111)
bt_audio_service_open: connect() failed: Connection refused (111)
bt_audio_service_open: connect() failed: Connection refused (111)
bt_audio_service_open: connect() failed: Connection refused (111)
bt_audio_service_open: connect() failed: Connection refused (111)
bt_audio_service_open: connect() failed: Connection refused (111)
bt_audio_service_open: connect() failed: Connection refused (111)
bt_audio_service_open: connect() failed: Connection refused (111)
Segmentation fault

I dumped the errors into Google, and found a helpful thread on the Ubuntu forums that suggested that I uninstall Bluetooth Audio Services from my machine. Since I don’t use bluetooth audio in any capacity, I happily obliged. When finished, my list of installed items with Bluetooth in the name looked like this:

A list of installed software matching the search term "bluetooth" in Ubuntu Software Centre

Unfortunately, I didn't think ahead enough to note down the names of the packages that I uninstalled.

After ridding myself of Bluetooth audio support, I tried to launch the application again. Unfortunately, I got another Segmentation fault error:

jonf@THE-LINUX-EXPERIMENT:~$ sudo lmms
Segmentation fault

Reading on in the thread, I saw somebody suggest that I check the dmesg tail for messages pertaining to the crash:

jonf@THE-LINUX-EXPERIMENT:~$ dmesg | tail
[  233.302221] JFS: nTxBlock = 8192, nTxLock = 65536
[  233.314247] NTFS driver 2.1.29 [Flags: R/O MODULE].
[  233.343361] QNX4 filesystem 0.2.3 registered.
[  233.367738] Btrfs loaded
[ 2233.118020] __ratelimit: 33 callbacks suppressed
[ 2233.118026] lmms[10706]: segfault at 7f241c7fdd80 ip 00007f241c7fdd80 sp 00007f24187f8a38 error 14 in zm1_1428.so[7f241ca01000+1000]
[ 2523.015245] lmms[10808]: segfault at 7fd80e9bcd80 ip 00007fd80e9bcd80 sp 00007fd80a9b7a38 error 14 in zm1_1428.so[7fd80ebc0000+1000]
[ 2671.323363] lmms[10845]: segfault at 7fbe39a77d80 ip 00007fbe39a77d80 sp 00007fbe35a72a38 error 14 in zm1_1428.so[7fbe39c7b000+1000]
[ 2836.885480] lmms[11246]: segfault at 7f885b71ed80 ip 00007f885b71ed80 sp 00007f8857719a38 error 14 in zm1_1428.so[7f885b922000+1000]
[ 3039.773287] lmms[11413]: segfault at 7ff83056ed80 ip 00007ff83056ed80 sp 00007ff82c569a38 error 14 in zm1_1428.so[7ff830772000+1000]

On the last few lines, you can see that the error was thrown in a module called zml_1428.so. A bit of Googling turned up the fact that this module is a part of the LADSPA (Linux Audio Developers Simple Plugin API) stack, which provides developers with a standard, cross-platform API for dealing with audio filters and effects.

Scrolling down in the aforementioned thread, I found a post that suggested that I kill all PulseAudio activities on my system before attempting to run the application. PulseAudio is another part of the Linux audio layer that allows user-land applications to talk to your sound hardware via a simple API. It also provides some effects plugins and mixdown capabilities. I went ahead and killed the PulseAudio server on my machine with the following command:

jonf@THE-LINUX-EXPERIMENT:~$ killall pulseaudio

After executing this command, I still got a Segmentation fault when starting LMMS under my user account, but did actually get to a Settings panel when running it with Sudo:

jonf@THE-LINUX-EXPERIMENT:~$ sudo lmms
Home directory /home/jfritz not ours.
ALSA lib pcm_dmix.c:1010:(snd_pcm_dmix_open) unable to open slave
Playback open error: Device or resource busy
Expression 'snd_pcm_hw_params_set_buffer_size_near( self->pcm, hwParams, &bufSz )' failed in 'src/hostapi/alsa/pa_linux_alsa.c', line: 1331
Expression 'PaAlsaStreamComponent_FinishConfigure( &self->playback, hwParamsPlayback, outParams, self->primeBuffers, realSr, outputLatency )' failed in 'src/hostapi/alsa/pa_linux_alsa.c', line: 1889
Expression 'PaAlsaStream_Configure( stream, inputParameters, outputParameters, sampleRate, framesPerBuffer, &inputLatency, &outputLatency, &hostBufferSizeMode )' failed in 'src/hostapi/alsa/pa_linux_alsa.c', line: 1994
Couldn't open PortAudio: Unanticipated host error
Home directory /home/jfritz not ours.
Home directory /home/jfritz not ours.

Although the output appeared to be riddled with audio layer errors, and the Audio Settings tab of the Setup panel gave me a clue as to why:

Notice how the Audio Interface setting in that image says “Pulse Audio (bad latency!)”. I would hazard a guess that the latency issues with PulseAudio have something to do with the fact that I killed it just prior to getting this damned thing to launch. When I hit the OK button, I was able to see the application, but there was no sound.

Figuring that sound was a necessary component of an audio production application, I booted back to the Setup menu, and told the app to funnel its audio through JACK instead of PulseAudio. The JACK Audio Connection Kit is another sound subsystem, kind of like PulseAudio, that provides an API that developers can use to interface with a machine’s audio hardware. Because of its low latency performance, JACK is often considered to be the standard API for high-quality audio recording and production apps. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work worth a damn in LMMS:

jonf@THE-LINUX-EXPERIMENT:~$ sudo lmms
jackd 0.118.0
Copyright 2001-2009 Paul Davis, Stephane Letz, Jack O'Quinn, Torben Hohn and others.
jackd comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY
This is free software, and you are welcome to redistribute it
under certain conditions; see the file COPYING for details

no message buffer overruns
JACK compiled with System V SHM support.
loading driver ..
SSE2 detected
creating alsa driver ... hw:0|hw:0|1024|2|48000|0|0|nomon|swmeter|-|32bit
control device hw:0
SSE2 detected
all 32 bit float mono audio port buffers in use!
cannot assign buffer for port
cannot deliver port registration request
no more JACK-ports available!
No audio-driver working - falling back to dummy-audio-driver
You can render your songs and listen to the output files...
Home directory /home/jfritz not ours.
Home directory /home/jfritz not ours.
the playback device "hw:0" is already in use. Please stop the application using it and run JACK again
cannot load driver module alsa
Home directory /home/jfritz not ours.

Having dealt with JACK on a previous install, I had one more trick up my sleeve in my effort to get this bastard application to make a sound. I installed the JACK Control Panel from the Ubuntu Software Centre. It’s a QT app that interfaces with the JACK server and allows you to modify settings and stuff.


With it installed, I pressed the big green (or is it red – I’m colour blind, and hate when developers use these two colours for important status messages) Start button, only to encounter some nasty errors:


That might be a problem. I hit the messages button and found a message advising me to make a change to the /etc/security/limits.conf file so that JACK would be allowed to use realtime scheduling:

JACK is running in realtime mode, but you are not allowed to use realtime scheduling.
Please check your /etc/security/limits.conf for the following lines
and correct/add them:
@audio - rtprio 100
@audio - nice -10
After applying these changes, please re-login in order for them to take effect.
You don't appear to have a sane system configuration. It is very likely that you
encounter xruns. Please apply all the above mentioned changes and start jack again!

I figured that it was worth a shot, considering how far I’ve already gone just to try out a piece of software that I don’t really even need. I made the requested changes in the config file, restarted my machine and tried again… only to be greeted by the same damned error message.

At this point, I decided to give up on LMMS. It’s too damned complicated, and ultimately not worth my time. Perhaps when they release a version that I can install and start using without an hour of troubleshooting, I’ll come back and give it another shot. In the mean time, if you’re looking for a decent drum machine with more than a few tricks up its sleeve, check out Hydrogen Drum Machine. It works very well, and I’ve created some neat stuff in it.




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.

Recovering a Corrupted Banshee Database

February 27th, 2011 11 comments

A couple of nights ago, I left Banshee running overnight, filling my phone with music to listen to the next day at work. Sometime during that process, the media player crashed in a big way, and my entire system ground to a halt. When I woke up the next morning, my computer was frozen solid, with no keyboard or mouse input accepted, and the system clock hadn’t advanced since 11:16pm the previous night. I did a hard reboot, hoping that all would be well when it came back up.

Boy was I wrong.

The Problem

It seems that when Banshee went down, it took my library database file with it. Now, whenever I launch the application, I get a lovely dialog box that looks something like this:


Launching the application from the command line provides more details:

jonf@THE-LINUX-EXPERIMENT: ~/.config/banshee-1$ banshee-1
[Info  11:20:32.175] Running Banshee 1.9.0: [source-tarball (linux-gnu, x86_64) @ 2010-12-09 13:07:07 EST]
[Warn  11:20:32.451] Service `Banshee.Database.BansheeDbConnection’ not started: The database disk image is malformed
database disk image is malformed
[Warn  11:20:32.453] Caught an exception – Mono.Data.Sqlite.SqliteException: The database disk image is malformed

Apparently, the SQLite database that forms the backend of Banshee is severely corrupted, and the application can’t open it for reading. Based on the command line output, I figured that Banshee uses SQLite3 for its database, and after a little bit of research, I found out that it stores the database file at ~/.config/banshee-1/banshee.db. After installing the SQLite3 package from my repositories with the command sudo apt-get install sqlite3, I was able to connect to the database without issue. A little bit of reading over at sqlite.org showed me how to do an integrity check on the database, which came back with some nasty results:

jonf@THE-LINUX-EXPERIMENT:~/.config/banshee-1$ sqlite3 -interactive banshee.db
SQLite version 3.6.22
Enter “.help” for instructions
Enter SQL statements terminated with a “;”
sqlite> PRAGMA integrity_check;
*** in database main ***
Main freelist: 2291 of 2292 pages missing from overflow list starting at 18928
On tree page 28 cell 4: Child page depth differs
On tree page 28 cell 6: 2nd reference to page 15475
On tree page 28 cell 6: Child page depth differs

On tree page 16807 cell 25: Child page depth differs
On tree page 16807 cell 26: 2nd reference to page 18171
On tree page 16807 cell 26: Child page depth differs

Each line of this output refers to a broken or corrupted index, with a total of 99 errors reported. Yikes.

The Solution

Before attempting to fix the problem, I made a backup of the broken database, just in case some data could be resurrected from it. To do this, I made sure that Banshee wasn’t running, and then made a copy of the database file with the command cp ~/.config/banshee-1/banshee.db ~/.config/banshee-1/banshee.db.old.

Since the integrity check showed a number of broken or corrupted indices, I thought perhaps I would be able to recover the database by rebuilding all of its indices. A quick scan of the SQLite documentation turned up the REINDEX function. Again, I connected to the database through the command-line interpreter, and gave it a shot:

jonf@THE-LINUX-EXPERIMENT:~/.config/banshee-1$ sqlite3 -interactive banshee.db
SQLite version 3.6.22
Enter “.help” for instructions
Enter SQL statements terminated with a “;”
sqlite> REINDEX;
Error: database disk image is malformed

That clearly didn’t work.

My next thought was to drop and re-create all of the indices in the database, in hopes that I could rebuild them. I used the graphical tool sqliteman (available from your repositories with the command sudo apt-get install sqliteman) to dump the database schema out to a text file and then scrolled through the file looking for each index. I managed to drop all but four of them, but got the image malformed error whenever I tried to drop the remaining four or recreate any of the ones that were successfully dropped.

Out of ideas, I resorted to attempting to recover what data I could from the mangled file. Using sqliteman, I created a dump of my library data to go along with the schema dump that I had created earlier. The good thing about this dump is that it contains all of the data with none of the indices. Next, I opened up a terminal and navigated to the temporary directory where I had saved the database dump. Using the sqlite3 command line interpreter, I built an image of the old database from the dump:

jonf@THE-LINUX-EXPERIMENT:~/Desktop/banshee$ sqlite3 -interactive banshee.db
SQLite version 3.6.22
Enter “.help” for instructions
Enter SQL statements terminated with a “;”
sqlite> .read dump.sql

Finally, I copied the newly created database into the banshee data directory with the command cp ~/Desktop/banshee/banshee.db  ~/.config/banshee-1/banshee.db.

The next time I started the application, all of my data was restored.

Prevention

I’ve put a lot of work into collecting and maintaining all of the music in my Banshee library. In order to avoid losing all of that work, I’ve decided to write a short script that takes a backup image of the library database every so often, and puts it in a safe place on my hard drive. Once I get that put together, I’ll throw it up on here for so that everybody can use it.




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.

Well, Here Goes Nothing

December 14th, 2010 No comments

During a routine update of my Fedora 13 system, I received the following notification:

You’ll notice, upon careful inspection, that the update utility would like to remove my kernel. This ought to be fun.




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.
Categories: God Damnit Linux, Jon F Tags:

Why I Hate Samba

December 12th, 2010 9 comments

This file copy is running over my local wireless network:

Apparently Samba uses less than 1% of available network bandwidth for file copies...

That is all.




On my Laptop, I am running Linux Mint 12.
On my home media server, I am running Ubuntu 12.04
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Categories: God Damnit Linux, Jon F Tags: , ,

How to Compile Banshee 1.9.0 on Ubuntu 10.04

December 9th, 2010 1 comment

Regular readers of this site will know that I’m no fan of Rhythmbox. When I recently installed Ubuntu 10.04 on my desktop PC, I decided to give Gnome’s default media player a few days to win back my affection. Unfortunately, while Novell’s Banshee project appears to be moving ahead with lots of great new features, Rythmbox still suffers from the issues that I outlined in my now infamous lambasting of it, nearly 8 months ago. To be fair, the pre-installed version of Rythmbox is only 0.12.8 on Ubuntu 10.04 (the same one that I reviewed previously), while the project has forged ahead to version 0.13.2.

Regardless, I prefer to listen to my music with Banshee, and I’m itching to try the latest version. On November 10th, the project released Banshee 1.9.0, and it looks positively excellent. I decided to give it a go, and downloaded the source tarball from the project’s website. Following are the steps that were necessary to install it:

  1. Head over to a terminal and install intltool, libgtk2.0-dev, libgtk2.0-cil-dev, libmono-dev, mono-gmcs, libmono-addins-cil-dev, monodoc-base, boo, libboo-cil-dev, libmono-addins-gui-cil-dev, libndesk-dbus-glib1.0-cil-dev, libgdata-dev, libgdata-cil-dev, libtag1-dev, libtaglib-cil-dev, sqlite3, libsqlite3-dev, libgconf2.0-cil-dev, libmtp-dev, libmono-zeroconf1.0-cil, libmono-zeroconf1.0-cil-dev, libwebkit-dev, libwebkit-cil-dev, and libsoup-gnome2.4-dev with the following command:

    sudo apt-get install intltool libgtk2.0-dev libgtk2.0-cil-dev libmono-dev mono-gmcs libmono-addins-cil-dev libmono-addins-gui-cil-dev monodoc-base boo libboo-cil-dev libndesk-dbus-glib1.0-cil-dev libgdata-dev libgdata-cil-dev libtag1-dev libtaglib-cil-dev sqlite3 libsqlite3-dev libgconf2.0-cil-dev libmtp-dev libmono-zeroconf1.0-cil libmono-zeroconf1.0-cil-dev libwebkit-dev libwebkit-cil-dev libsoup-gnome2.4-dev

  2. Next, you’ll need GStreamer and a few of its base plugins package: libgstreamer0.10-dev and libgstreamer-plugins-base0.10-dev

    sudo apt-get install libgstreamer0.10-dev libgstreamer-plugins-base0.10-dev

  3. If you want to play music encoded in non-free formats like mp3, you’ll also need a few restricted GStreamer libraries like gstreamer-plugins-good, gstreamer-plugins-bad, gstreamer-plugins-bad-multiverse, gstreamer-plugins-ugly, and gstreamer-plugins-ugly-multiverse.

    sudo apt-get install gstreamer-plugins-good gstreamer-plugins-bad gstreamer-plugins-bad-multiverse gstreamer-plugins-ugly gstreamer-plugins-ugly-multiverse

  4. Since I don’t have an iPod or similar Apple device, I’ve configured my installation to disable Apple device support. If you have an iPod, you can lose the –disable-apple-device and –disable-ipod flags after the configure command, but you’ll also need to add a couple of extra libraries to your system. To compile and install Banshee, navigate to the folder where you unzipped the tarball, and type the following in your terminal:

    ./configure –disable-appledevice –disable-ipod
    sudo make
    sudo make install

Banshee should now be installed. From your terminal, type

banshee-1

as a sanity check. Once the application launches, select Help > About and ensure that the version number is 1.9.0. If so, you should be good to go.

I’ll try to post a full review of this latest version of Banshee within a couple of days. In the mean time, happy listening!




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.

Django Development on Ubuntu 10.04

December 8th, 2010 2 comments

When I’m not rocking out my ninja-like linux skillz here at The Linux Experiment, I like to spend my spare time working on SlightlySauced, a weekly round table podcast. When we started the show, we chose to host it on a simple Tumblr blog, because it offered a fast setup experience and didn’t require much additional configuration to work well enough for our purposes. In light of this week’s Tumblr outages, we’ve decided to move the show off of the cloud and onto the same hosting provider that this site resides on.

Since I find myself with a little bit of spare time recently, I’ve also decided to write a custom site for the show using Django, my new favourite web framework. If you’re interested in trying your hand at Django development (and honestly, if you’re doing web development of any kind, why haven’t you tried it yet?), you can follow along with my progress here.

Step 1: Installing MySql

Because Django is a Python-based web framework, it includes SQLite out of the box. My web host of choice provides solid MySQL support, so I’ve decided to swap out SQLite for MySql. This requires that I install a local MySQL server for development purposes. Ubuntu has posted some handy documentation that I followed loosely. I’ll repeat the relevant steps here for posterity and ease of use.

From your terminal, type:

sudo apt-get install mysql-server

During the installation process, you’ll be prompted to enter a password for MySql’s root user account. If your server is going to be public-facing, it’s a good idea to enter a strong password. If it’s just for development purposes, you can probably use something weaker and easier to type.

Once the installation has finished, check that your server is running by typing:

sudo netstat -tap | grep mysql

This command should output something like the following:

tcp     0     0     localhost:mysql     *:*     LISTEN 2556/mysqld

Note: This command didn’t actually work for me. I had to remove the pipe and type just

sudo netstat -tap

and then search the resulting list for the MySql entry. I found it easily enough, and was convinced that the daemon was running and waiting for clients.

Step 2: MySQL Workbench (Optional)

Once your MySql daemon is up and running, you could edit the /etc/mysql/my.cnf file to alter its configuration. Instead, I opted to use MySQL Workbench, a decent graphical management tool that is distributed by Oracle (the same folks who make MySql). I’ve used it extensively at work, so I’m familiar with it and comfortable with its quirks. If you care to use it, you’ll have to grab it from Oracle’s website, as it’s not in the Ubuntu repositories. Luckily, Oracle provides a Ubuntu 10.04 64-bit *.deb that can be easily installed with GDebi. For those who care about such things, MySQL Workbench is a fully OSS GPL-licensed product, so there’s no funny stuff going on with regards to licensing.

With MySQL Workbench up and running, you’ll be presented with a screen like this one:

Click on New Connection under the SQL Development column in the bottom left of the screen, and enter the connection details of your local MySql server. It should be available via the loopback IP 127.0.0.1 on port 3306. The default username is root, and the password is whatever you set during the installation process. Once you get access, you can create a new schema and fire a few commands at it to test your setup.

Head back over to the Home tab and click on New Server Instance under the Server Administration column at the bottom right of the screen. In the dialog that pops up, select Take Parameters from Existing Database Connection and hit Next a bunch of times. The resulting window is a full MySQL daemon monitoring window that details traffic, the number of connections to the server, etc. More importantly, it allows you to set up user accounts and change configuration variables from a handy graphical front end instead of wading through MySQL’s extensive configuration files.

I headed over to the Accounts tab and created a user account for Django. At this stage of development, you’ll want to give this account full root access to the database, as Django will automatically create and drop schemas and tables as you code your website. Once development is done, you can pare these down to only those that are necessary.

Step 3: Installing Django

Holy crap, that was a lot of work, and we haven’t even gotten our framework of choice installed yet! Let’s get on with that. The project has some excellent documentation on this issue. I’ll repeat the basic steps here for your convenience, but strongly suggest that you read through the full instruction set if you encounter any issues or want to perform a customized installation.

Since Django is a python-based framework, you’ll need to make sure that you have a compatible version of Python installed on your system. At the time of writing, Ubuntu 10.04 ships with Python version 2.6.5. Django only works with Python versions 2.4 through 2.7. If you’re not running Ubuntu 10.04, you can check which version you have installed by typing

python –version

in your terminal. Once you’ve ensured that you have a compatible Python version installed, type

sudo apt-get install python-django

in your terminal to install version 1.1.1 of the framework from your repositories. Once the installation has finished, you should check the installed version. Since Django lives inside of python, you’ll need to start a python terminal by typing

python

in your terminal. Once started, type

import django
print django.get_version()

If you don’t see any horrendous-looking error messages, you’re good to go. As a side note, if you type

apt-cache search django

you’ll see that the Ubuntu repositories include quite a few handy Django plugins and applications that you might want to use in your projects, including a URL shortener, a user-registration module, and a contact form. Each of these can be installed on your system and included in any Django project quite easily. I’ll probably end up using one or more in my project to save me some time.

Finally, you’ll need to install an extra database connector for python in order to use MySql from within Django. In Ubuntu 10.04, this package is called python-mysqldb.

Step 4: Write Some Code!

So you’re up and running. If you’re not familiar with Django, I suggest that you run through their online tutorial. It’s well-written and provides a great introduction to some of the stuff that the framework can do.

Whatever you do, have fun! In my experience, Django makes web development a pleasure because it takes care of a lot of the nitty-gritty crap for you and lets you get on with solving harder problems.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Edit: Added an extra database connector package that’s necessary if you want to use MySql with Django.




On my Laptop, I am running Linux Mint 12.
On my home media server, I am running Ubuntu 12.04
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