Tag Archives: linux

Watch & Win with Linux Journal

Like Linux Journal but are too cheap to buy your own subscription? Or just like freebies? Then now’s your chance to get a free subscription. Linux Journal is holding a contest this week. You simply have to watch their Tech Tip Videos, collect the secret letters. You can find full details on their site. I’ve embedded the first video below or you can head over to Linux Journal to watch it there.

Additional videos to watch for the secret letters include:

Kubuntu 8.04 to 8.10

Last night I upgraded my home PC from Kubuntu 8.04 to 8.10.  On the one hand, the upgrade went better than any other upgrade ever has.  On the other, I ran into some major problems.


  • The actual upgrade process completed without errors.
  • The computer was successfully upgraded from 8.04 to 8.10 without any manual intervention on my part.
  • Desktop effects (aka compiz) are very fun.  I’d tried them in the past with less than stellar results (too buggy) but they seem much more stable now.
  • The extra buttons on my trackball finally work righ with Firefox under Ubuntu (back/forward).


  • The upgrader removed and did not reinstall the restricted kernel modules.
    • For my less technical readers, basically the upgrade broke both my wireless connection and 3D acceleration.  I could live without the 3D, but this computer relies on wireless to connect to my home network.  Fixing that took a couple of hours of digging around in the log files and using another computer to get the files I needed.  Major headache.
    • I understand why the modules were removed and not installed after the upgrade, but I wish the upgrader had been smart enough to realize I needed them and would have at least downloaded them to be available after I rebooted to complete the install.
  • KDE 4.x is the new default desktop environment for Kubuntu.  KDE 4.x does not play nicely with Nvidia graphics cards.  Like the one in my computer.  Meaning the lag between clicking on a the K menu and the menu popping up was about 2 minutes.  *ugh*  I could disable the Nvidia drivers to get normal performance back but then I’d lose my 3D acceleration.  *sigh*  So I’ve switched over to using Gnome, which will probably make at least one person I know very smug.
  • The network shared drives I had setup to be automatically mounted on every boot are no longer mounting.  Gnome has an easy way to connect to those shares, but I really don’t want to have to mount them manually every time.

Update: For those of you stopping by looking for instructions on how to do this upgrade, you can fine the complete instructions (with screenshots!) over at Ubuntu’s Community Documentation page for IntrepidUpgrades/Kubuntu.

Dapper to Hardy in 23 painful hours

I I finally set about upgrading my home server1 from Dapper to Hardy yesterday. I had been hoping for a less traumatic experience then upgrading my desktop computer from Dapper to Gusty2. Unfortunately I once again ran into problems. First off, it’s been nearly a week since Hardy was officially released but when I tried to run the official upgrade tools they all initially told me I was running the latest version. According to the documentation, I should have been able to run either sudo do-release-upgrade or sudo update-manager but neither worked. I was only able to start the upgrade process by running sudo update-manager -d and my understanding is that “-d” tells the program to grab the latest development version. Weird, but oh well. Then the process just dragged on and on and on and on and on…. I eventually went to bed leaving it running. The only reason I stayed up as late as I did with it was the excellent book I was reading.

When I got up this morning, it was still running but was hung up on a question I needed to answer. I clicked through the question and a few more before heading off to work. When I got home, again the upgrade was hung up on a question. I worked my way through answering all the questions and let the upgrader do its job. Unfortunately the upgrader eventually failed on these packages: gnome-applets-data, gnome-applets, ubuntu-desktop and update-manager. I clicked through the errors and then the upgrader said:

Could not install the upgrades
The upgrade aborts now. Your system could be in an unusable state. A recovery will run now (dpkg –configure -a).

I clicked ok to the error, something flashed up and then the upgrader died/vanished/went away. I tried running:

  • sudo aptitude update but it sat there for far too long for my sleep deprived and impatient self.
  • sudo aptitude upgrade, only it said there wasn’t anything to upgrade.
  • sudo aptitude autoclean, *shrug* it's part of my standard script for updating my systems.
  • sudo aptitude dist-upgrade, only it said there wasn’t anything to upgrade.
  • sudo dpkg --configure -a, it said there were unconfigured packages but it couldn’t fix them automagically. It mostly complained about gnome-applets-data.

I ended up running sudo aptitude install gnome-applets-data gnome-applets ubuntu-desktop update-manager and that fixed up those errors no problem. For giggles of insanity I tried running sudo aptitude -s -f install to see what else might be left to update3. It found another 111 packages it wanted to remove but some of them I want to keep, so I’ll have to look into that more closely. Most likely all these errors were caused by my own foolishness, as at one point I was testing some stuff out on the machine and enabled some 3rd party repositories to install unsupported apps. *blech* I don’t think I’ll be doing that again. I was able to reboot the machine and connect to it via SSH and SMB, but HTTP seems to be broken at the moment. *bugger* Apache is one of the packages sudo aptitude -s -f install wanted to remove. I guess looking into that just got bumped up my priority list.

1 An old Dell Dimension desktop with a PII-400 CPU and 256 MB of RAM.
2 Never fear, Fritz (my desktop PC) is next on my list of machines to upgrade.
3 More accurately, I found some instructions when upgrading my desktop from Dapper to Gusty that recommended doing that to ensure all apps got updated.

Linux CLI Tip

Sometimes when you’re staring the bash prompt, you want to be able to see if a specific program is currently running. There are a couple of ways to do this; generally I run:
ps -ef | grep ProgramName

However I once saw a tip for doing something similar with top but I lost the link and for a long time couldn’t find it again. Truth be told, I still haven’t found that specific link but I did some googling and found the right cli switches to do it. Since I want to make sure I remember in the future, I’m posting it here:
top -b -n 1 | grep ProgramName

Too Much Command Line

You know you’ve been spending too much time on the cli when you keep hitting tab in Notepad and wonder why the autocompletion isn’t kicking in.

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