All posts tagged ubuntu

Fixed Problem – Mozilla Thunderbird with Lightning

If like us, you try to keep the majority of the software you use open source, then Mozilla Thunderbird (with the Lightning add-on) might just be the perfect solution to your PIM (personal information manager) needs.

We use Thunderbird exclusively within our organisation for email, and with the Lightning add-on, for task and calendar management.

Recently, we have come across an issue with Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) whereby the New Event and New Task buttons were greyed out or disabled – making adding calendar entries impossible.

This was fixed by uninstalling the add-on, closing Thunderbird and running the following command in a terminal session:

sudo apt-get install libstdc++5

Reinstalling the add-on after libstdc++5 was installed fixed the issue – the calendar portion worked as it should. It appears that this prerequisite was not installed on the machine we were using.

In any case, Mozilla Thunderbird and Lightning represent (in our opinion!) the killer email and calenar application for Ubuntu.

You can download Thunderbird here, and Lightning here.

Thanks to this blog for the pointer!

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DamianFixed Problem – Mozilla Thunderbird with Lightning

Installing Ubuntu 8.04 on a Viglen MPC-L


The Viglen MPC-L (<– PDF link) is a low powered (both in terms of CPU speed and power consumption) compact computer.

They are extremely similar to the Linutop machine (i.e. identical) and are actually an FIC ION 503 under the hood.

It comes preinstalled with xubuntu, a version of ubuntu that substitutes the gnome window manager with XFCE.

Better still, email Duncan Hargreaves at Viglen (tell them the ubuntu podcast sent you) and you can pick one up for a mere £79.

If like us, you are a stickler for utilising similar OS environments for support reasons (including the window manager) then a full install of ubuntu is the way to go.

Other than gnome, a newer version of ubuntu is necessary for long term support – the version of xubuntu preinstalled on the MPC-L is 7.04 which is now end of life. This means no more automatic updates (in fact, these result in a 404 error…)

Beyond the software, the hardware has a couple of foibles, which we will need to work around for ubuntu to boot properly. ACPI support is non existent, and the BIOS does not appear to be PNP compliant.

The installation process for Ubuntu 8.04 is thankfully simple. (You will need a USB CD drive to carry this out)

1. Attach the CD drive via the rear USB ports on the MPC-L. The machine will not boot from a device attached to the front ports.

2. Check the BIOS boot order – ensure USB CD-ROM drive is higher on the list than IDE HDD.

3. Restart the machine with the ubuntu installation CD in the CD drive

4. When you hit the main installation menu, press F4 and ensure ACPI=OFF is selected (with a small x)

5. Install as normal beyond this point – selecting keyboard language and location etc.

BE WARNED: The installation will take a very long time – approx 2-3 hours

6. Upon restart, you need to edit the GRUB boot string, so ACPI is off. Edit the first ubuntu 8.04 entry on the grub list. One of the entries looks contains the line “UUID=xxxxxxx” where the ‘x’ are hexadecimal characters. Append this line, adding:

pnpbios=off pci=noacpi

Then press enter to save the entry.

7. Press ‘b’ to boot from the edited entry.

8. Upon logging into gnome for the first time, you will need to update (if only for the updated graphics driver which will allow resolutions over 800×600 – the key package is available here (xserver-xorg-video-amd))

9. You will need to permanently edit your GRUB list, to avoid having to edit the line (as per step 6) on every boot. The file is located at /boot/grub/menu.lst. Edit this with gedit or similar (from terminal: sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst) and then run: sudo update-grub from the terminal.

10. That’s it! A fully working installation of ubuntu hardy!

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DamianInstalling Ubuntu 8.04 on a Viglen MPC-L

Enable DVD Playback in Ubuntu – Fast

It’s a pain that ubuntu does not play DVDs ‘out of the box’ as it were.

To fix this, quite simply, open a terminal session and type:

    • sudo apt-get install totem-xine libxine1-ffmpeg libdvdread3
    • sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3/install-css.sh

      That should be it!

      Note that the DVD decrypting tool you’re installing is not licensed or supported by ubuntu, so tread carefully. I have never experienced any issues with the above commands however.

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      DamianEnable DVD Playback in Ubuntu – Fast

      Alternatives to Microsoft Office


      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:


      You will need to download and install the following packages:


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

      Link to Mad Analogy walkthrough:

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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.


      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:
      The ubuntu community page

      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:


      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: > > 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

      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