ubuntu

Alternatives to Microsoft Office

openofficelogo

Sun Microsystems have now released v3.0 of their popular ‘OpenOffice.org’ productivity suite. It’s a fantastic alternative for current users of Microsoft Office, or those who wish to have the functionality of the Microsoft Office suite, but do not like the high pricetag.

It has compatibility with all the Microsoft Office file types (including new .docx for Microsoft Word 2007)

Installation of OpenOffice.org is easy – follow the links below for walkthroughs:

For online only use, perhaps consider Google Docs – you can download and upload files from here also, meaning that at a push, you could use it to edit a file where you do not have your normal office suite installed.

There is a huge list of other alternatives at wikipedia – our preference definitely lies with OpenOffice.org however.

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DamianAlternatives to Microsoft Office

Using a BlackBerry with ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04

Mad Analogy has a nice walkthrough on how to charge or backup your BlackBerry device under Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon. This also works fine on Hardy Heron 8.04.

Barry, the software package he reccomends installing can also be installed by double-clicking on the RPM files that are available on the SourceForge.net site for the tool:

http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=153722

You will need to download and install the following packages:

barrybackup-gui_0.14-0_ubuntu804_i386.deb
barry-util_0.14-0_ubuntu804_i386.deb
libbarry0_0.14-0_ubuntu804_i386.deb
libbarry-dev_0.14-0_ubuntu804_i386.deb
libopensync-plugin-barry_0.14-0_ubuntu804_i386.deb

Which some may find a little easier than the normal apt-get malarkey!

Link to Mad Analogy walkthrough:
http://www.madanalogy.com/2007/10/blackberry-support-in-ubuntu-gutsy.html

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DamianUsing a BlackBerry with ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04

Free alternative to Norton Ghost and Acronis True Image

Norton Ghost is an extremely useful utility that allows you to duplicate one hard drive to another. In How to install/replace a PATA (IDE) hard drive we shared a video showing how to physically replace an ATA or IDE hard drive.

But what about your old data? Well, you can copy this from your old hard drive with a number of utilites, Norton Ghost and Acronis True Image being some of the more popular commerical programs.

You can use a nifty utility called Clonezilla to do this for free.

Some of the key features of Clonezilla:

  • Free (GPL) Software.
  • Filesystem supported: ext2, ext3, reiserfs, xfs, jfs of GNU/Linux, FAT, NTFS of MS Windows, and HFS+ of Mac OS (testing feature provided by partclone). Therefore you can clone GNU/Linux, MS windows and Intel-based Mac OS. For these file systems, only used blocks in partition are saved and restored. For unsupported file system, sector-to-sector copy is done by dd in Clonezilla.
  • LVM2 (LVM version 1 is not) under GNU/Linux is supported.
  • Multicast is supported in Clonezilla SE, which is suitable for massively clone. You can also remotely use it to save or restore a bunch of computers if PXE and Wake-on-LAN are supported in your clients.
  • Based on Partimage, ntfsclone, partclone, and dd to clone partition. However, clonezilla, containing some other programs, can save and restore not only partitions, but also a whole disk.
  • By using another free software drbl-winroll, which is also developed by the same people, the hostname, group, and SID of cloned MS windows machine can be automatically changed.

For most home and small business users, the live CD Clonezilla live is probably your best bet. By recording the ISO (CD image file) to CD with a free utility like ISORecorder you can boot from the CD and duplicate your hard drive.

Links:

Petri.co.il – A walkthough of CD burning with ISORecorder
Clonezilla – A walkthough of using Clonezilla live (technical)

Of course, Jaytag are on hand to assist in dulicating your data – give us a call on 0845 310 2750 for free advice, or to arrange an appointment.

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DamianFree alternative to Norton Ghost and Acronis True Image

Installing LAMP web server on ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04

Ever wanted to quickly configure a web server on ubuntu desktop edition? This walkthrough will show you how to install a LAMP(Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) server.

There are a few different ways we can achieve the same end:

Method One:
The first way is by using the terminal. Type the following into a terminal session – note, this install may take a little while:Â…

sudo apt-get install apache2 mysql-server php5 libapache2-mod-php5 php5-xsl php5-gd php-pear libapache2-mod-auth-mysql php5-mysql # Installs the LAMP server in one hit

Method Two:

The second way to install is using taskselÂ… – it’s a tool that groups some packages in to pre-defined tasks and allows the user to install the relevant packages for the task.

sudo tasksel install lamp-server

Method Three:

You can use tasksel in the package manager also. Go to System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager. You will need to supply the root/administration password to open this.

Within the manager, click Edit > Mark Packages by Task

From the list that appears, select LAMP server.

Click OK, and then ‘Apply’ in the main Package Manager window. The LAMP server will then be installed.

For a more in depth guide, have a look at these links:
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/ApacheMySQLPHP
The ubuntu community page

http://www.howtoforge.com/lamp_installation_ubuntu6.06
Installing a full LAMP server from scratch

Jaytag has years of experience of configuring web servers of all types, either LAMP, WAMP or WIMP. Give us a call about configuring a web server for you on 0845 310 2750.

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DamianInstalling LAMP web server on ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04

Easy backups in Ubuntu with File Backup Manager – pybackpack

A question we are often asked:

“Is there an easy way to do backups in Ubuntu?”

The answer is yes! File Backup Manager (pybackpack) is a simple GUI backup utility that allows backups to CD/DVD, your local file system or to a network drive either via SMB or SSH.

Lets install it. Open up a terminal and run the following:

sudo apt-get install pybackpack # Downloads and installs File Backup Manager

After the download and installation completes, you should see that “File Backup Manager” has appeared in the System > Administration menu.

Here is the main screen:

pbackpack1

The program features one-click backup or restore your home directory files. Clicking the ‘Go’ button above will do this.

To backup other locations, click into the ‘Backup’ tab

Screenshot-File Backup Manager

To create a new set, click ‘New’ a wizard will appear that will take you through the steps to create a backup.

Screenshot-Create New Backup Set

Click forward to proceed to the next screen. This screen allows you to name your backup, provide a description and a destination.

Screenshot-Create New Backup Set-1

In the image, you can see I want to backup some images. I have yet to select the destination – this is the next step. I want to backup my files to CD – so I select this in the drop-down box ‘Destination Type’

Screenshot-Create New Backup Set-2

I then click forward, to proceed to the next screen, detailing what files I want to backup. Select from the window the files or folders you want to backup and click the ‘+’ button for each.

Screenshot-Create New Backup Set-3

You can see in the above that I want to back up ‘Documents’ of course, if I want to exclude certain subfolders I can click the ‘-‘ button. Clicking next takes us to the summary screen detailing our selections and detination.

Click forward, and then ‘Apply’ on the next screen to save the backup to our main window:

Screenshot-File Backup Manager-1

You can see the new set ‘Images’ is here. You have a chance to reselect the destination if you wish, and the backup will start when you click ‘Backup’ You can see more details with the ‘Show details’ checkbox before clicking ‘Backup’

Restoring Files

Restoring the files is as simple as choosing the location in the ‘Restore’ tab and clicking ‘Restore’. Alternatively, the folder/CD can be browsed. The files are stored in the same directory structure as you backed up.

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DamianEasy backups in Ubuntu with File Backup Manager – pybackpack

Installing exim on Hardy Heron Ubuntu 8.04

This walkthrough will detail the installation and configuration of exim on your Ubuntu installation.

Firstly, lets get exim installed:

su # enable root for installation and configuration - enter your password when prompted
apt-get install exim4 # Installs exim

Next, run the configuration

dpkg-reconfigure exim4-config # Runs the configuration program for exim

Here is a quick runthrough of the screens (there is more information on each screen if you require):

Mail Server configuration > OK
General type of mail configuration: > mail sent by smarthost; received via SMTP or fetchmail > OK
System mail name: > (leave the default in place) > OK
IP-addresses to listen on: > 127.0.0.1 > OK
Other destinations: > (leave the default in place) > OK
Machines to relay mail for: > (leave blank) > OK
IP address or host name: > (Your ISPs SMTP server) > OK
Hide local mail name: > No > OK
In normal mode of operation: > OK
Keep number of DNS-queries minimal: > No
Delivery method: > mbox format in /var/mail/ > OK
Split configuration: > No

The configuration program will then close

* Stopping MTA for restart                                              [ OK ]
* Restarting MTA                                                        [ OK ]

Next, we will install mailutils – a useful program that will allow us to send a test mail. Still as root,run:

apt-get install mailutils

Then send a test mail:

mail (email address you would like to email)
cc: (press enter to skip cc:)
Subject: (enter a subject, then press enter)
. (the . ends the message body)

You should recieve the email at your selected address shortly.

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DamianInstalling exim on Hardy Heron Ubuntu 8.04

Fixing a broken mdadm array – failed drive

Sometimes, even with the best intentions things can go wrong with a RAID array. A drive may fail, or the array may become ‘dirty’ for any number of reasons.

Here, we will go through some simple steps to repair a damaged array.

In our example case, a drive has failed. By running the following command in a terminal, we can get a status update on our array:

sudo mdadm --detail /dev/md0 # Displays detail about /dev/md0

The output:

failed.png

You can see the state is listed as “clean, degraded” this means a drive is missing from the array. Also note that device 1 has been “removed”.

Before we do anything, we need to unmount our array (in this case, /dev/md0)

sudo umount /dev/md0 # Unmounts /dev/md0

If you recieve a ‘device is busy’ warning, you can find out what process is using the array with the following command:

fuser -m /dev/md0 # Shows what process number is using /dev/md0
/dev/sdc1: 538
ps auxw|grep 538
# Shows what process number 538 refers to
damian 538 0.4 2.7 219212 56792 ? SLl Feb11 11:25 rhythmbox

So in this case, it is rhythmbox that is using the drive. Close this, and umount again. If it is Samba, then issue the following command then umount:

sudo /etc/init.d/samba stop # Stops the Samba process

Failed Drive has been re-added

In this instance, we can try to re-add the lost device. In this case I believe that restarting your computer is a good first step. On reboot, open a terminal and run su to become root. Then run the following commands:

sudo mdadm --detail /dev/md0   # Just to check nothing has changed
sudo mdadm --add /dev/md0 /dev/sdc1  # To re-add the faulty (now working) HDD

You should recieve mdadm: re-added /dev/sdc1. If so, run the following:

sudo mdadm --detail /dev/md0   # To ensure the drive has readded successfully

The output should look like this:

rebuilding.png

Notice “clean, degraded, recovering” this is a good sign – as is “spare rebuilding” these messages mean that the array is rebuilding successfully (so far).

To monitor further – run the following command:

sudo watch cat /proc/mdstat

This command will display the status of mdadm, and refresh every 2 seconds. When you are done watching, you can press CTRL+C to escape back to the command line, or you can simply close the terminal window
rebuilding2.png

The eventual result of another sudo mdadm --detail /dev/md0 should show the array as “clean”

MDADM can be tricky – Jaytag can help. Give us a call on 0845 310 2750 about software and hardware RAID arrays, and we can give advice about choosing the right option for you.

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DamianFixing a broken mdadm array – failed drive

Creating a RAID 5 array in Ubuntu with MDADM – Walkthrough

Software RAID-5 is a cheap and easy way to create a virtual single drive from many to store your files. Software RAID in Linux, via mdadm, offers lots of advanced features that are only normally available on harware RAID controller cards. A big one is the ability to ‘grow’ the array of disks when you run out of space! Consider also that software RAID can move with you – so if you decide to change motherboards or your RAID controller fails it is won’t mean the end of the world.

This guide details setting up software RAID 5 on Hardy Heron (8.04) Ubuntu using mdadm after you have a running Ubuntu install. It does not cover everything you need to know about RAID and the knowledge in this document is by no means extensive – please check out the further reading link for more information at the end of this article.

There is an expectation that you have a basic understanding on how to use the command line (terminal) It’s recommended that you are at least familiar with it before following this walkthrough.

Before we get started, remember that no RAID solution is a viable replacement for regularly backing up your data! If your data is mission critical, make sure it’s backed either on removable media or on another device. We will cover this in another article.

One: Prepare the Disks

Open up a terminal window and run:

sudo fdisk -l

This will bring up a list of available disks.

I will be using 4, 250gb Hard Disks (sdb1, sdc1, sdd1 and sde1) that I wish to combine into a RAID-5 volume. The disks are all currently unformatted and unpartitioned.

We firstly need to format the drives (as ext3) and set the RAID flag. This can be easily achieved with gPartEd. If you do not have “Partition Editor” on your System->Administration menu, install it with this command:

sudo apt-get install gparted

In the Partition Editor application, select each disk in turn and format it to ext3. CAUTION! you will lose all data on the device you format.

Once the format is complete, right click on each new “volume” you have created and select “Manage Flags” – tick the “RAID” flag to indicate the disk will become part of a RAID set.

Once you have your three disks set up, running fdisk -l (as root) should now indicate that those disks are correctly prepared to be created into the RAID 5 array.

Two: Creating the RAID Device
If you don’t already have mdadm (Mirrored Device Admin) installed, run the following:

sudo apt-get install mdadm

You can now create your RAID volume (md0, if this is to be your first) by running:

sudo mdadm --create --verbose /dev/md0 --level=5 --raid-devices=4 /dev/sdb1 /dev/sdc1 /dev/sdd1 /sde1

To further explain, --verbose will display more information on the screen as the RAID is created (which is useful in case of problems), /dev/md0 is the RAID device to be created, --level=5 dictates that we want to create a RAID 5 volume, and --raid-devices=4 dictates that there are to be four drives in our raid array. Following this is a list of the disks you wish to assign to the array. For more information, you can run: mdadm --help-options

When mdadm --create is run, your RAID device will be created

Once the build is under-way, you can monitor its progress by running:

sudo watch cat /proc/mdstat

This command will display the status of mdadm, and refresh every 2 seconds. When you are done watching, you can press CTRL+C to escape back to the command line, or you can simply close the terminal window.

The last stage before you create the file system on your new raid disk is to create your mdadm.conf file. This file contains information about your RAID array that the mdm daemon will need on boot to “re-assemble” your array ready for mounting. To create your mdadm.conf file, run the following commands:

sudo echo "DEVICE partitions" > /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf
sudo mdadm --detail --scan >> /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf

Three: Creating the Filesystem and Mount Point
Now that you have created a RAID 5 volume, it needs to be formatted before data can be stored on it. In this case, we have opted for ext3. The following command will format the RAID volume to ext3. Note that you can format the disk whilst the array is still synchronising).

sudo mke2fs -j /dev/md0

This may take some time – especially if the command is run while you are synchronising the array.

Once the format has completed you need to edit your fstab to make the RAID-5 volume automatically mount on the next boot. In this case, we have used /var/media. However, you may use any mount point that you wish. Add the mount point to the /etc/fstab file:

# RAID
/dev/md0 /var/media auto defaults 0 3

You can now mount the array (even while it is still syncing!) by issuing the following command as root:

mount /dev/md0

Some further reading:

This short guide is by no means everything there is to know on the subject of RAID and mdadm. Once your RAID array is up and running there are still plenty more tweaks and obstacles to overcome in the future. Review the following links to find out more:

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DamianCreating a RAID 5 array in Ubuntu with MDADM – Walkthrough