Friday, September 22, 2006

Beautiful fonts

To get the fonts on Edgy looking fab, it just takes a second to copy the folloing text to a blank file and save it as .fonts.conf in your home directory (/home/username/)
<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM "fonts.dtd">
<match target="font">
<edit name="autohint" mode="assign">

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Edgy Eft

I decided that with Knot 3 hitting the shelves at Ubuntu, I would take the plunge and install it. Sure, it's a development branch and will be inherently unstable, but I reckon that it will be a good experience to install it, check out some of the new features and report some bugs.

My system spec is as follows:
  • AMD 64 3200 (Venice core)
  • 2 GB Corsair RAM
  • 200G Seagate SATA hard-drive
  • nVidia GeForce 6200 graphics - dual head
Installing Linux has never been simpler. Download your CD image, burn it to CD and pop it in the drive. Restart your machine and wait for the CD to boot (making sure that your BIOS is setup to boot from CD!).

You get presented with a Ubuntu desktop and an "install" icon and after answering some normal setup questions, the installer gets to work, partitioning and installing. My first problem came at restart with this bug:
BUG: Soft lockup detected on !CPU#0
After the machine was restarted manually :o( it booted double quick - we are still waiting for the splash screen so I had to read the log entries during the boot sequence.

Given that I have a GeForce 6200 nVidia card with dual head capabilities and 2 19" flat panels, it would be nice to use them! After getting them to work many times in the past, all it took was a quick apt-get nvidia-glx and copy and pasting my xorg.conf from this blog post. A simple gdm restart with Ctrl-Alt-Backspace later and I'm presented with the nVidia splashscreen and a beautiful Xinerama login screen.

We're in production at the moment, so it was hardly surprising that updates were available for me to install - simple procedure with the update manager and no problems yet.

Following the updates another restart was required and the same bug as above was encountered. I was returned to my desktop to set it up how I like - I would post a screenshot, but the handy screenshot utility is only grabbing half the screen!

First real problem arrived after the restart - trying to load the terminal didn't work. It started to load and ended up quiting before opening up the window... it's a pain, but not a deal braker, I'll just use the terminal (Ctrl+Alt+F1). I copied by backup files back to my Edgy machine and distributed them to their correct locations.

The final part of the upgrade was to get my must have pieces of software installed. To be honest, most are installed by default:
  • Firefox
  • Evolution
  • Gain
  • OpenOffice
  • Gimp
Some however, like my favorite music player (Muine) are not. For this, I needed to add the Universe repository, which is much simpler in Edgy than it was in Dapper (just an obvious tick box in Synaptic). Then searched for muine and added it and all it's handy plugins, gstreamer0.8-mad and gstreamer0.10-fluendo-mp3 for mp3 playback and a great piece of sync software, unison.

And that was it... only took about an hour, which I think has been my quickest reinstall of a system EVER.

I synced the backup repositories with my local machine to ensure that I had all the backups in place and gave unison the chance to create its archives. Copying the 8000+ mp3 files took a little longer than anything else I wanted to do, so the machines got the opportunity to do it overnight!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Ubuntu AMD64 Firefox

A couple of the things that you really want from the internet (on occasion), don't work with the default firefox install from a 64 ubuntu deployment. The two main dealbrakers are flash and java. Real media would be nice, but there are ways round that problem.

I found a nice answer to the problem at the ubuntu forum.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

File synchronization

I've been searching for a linux based utility that will allow me to synchronise my files. It needs to be able to act as a backup utility and also as a sync utility for my laptop.

I finally found Unison which is only an "apt-get install" step away from Ubuntu users. If you are using unison, the config files are kept in ~/.unison

Running unison is pretty simple and like all good software, it works simply out of the box but provides plenty of advanced features for those who are interested and read the documentation!

Unison notices when you do your first sync and mentions it to you. It then runs through the directory contents and checks that you want to sync it. If you have a directory called scripts and want to sync it with a backup directory called backup, the two examples below show how you would sync local and remote directories.
unison scripts backup
unison scripts ssh://server//path/to/scripts
You'll be prompted for authentication and then all is the same as before. It has to be said that constantly typing paths does get tedious and you can therefore create a config file and place it within the .unison directory. For this example, create a file called scripts.prf:
# You must have exactly 2 root declarations
root = scripts
root = ssh://server//path/to/scripts

# If you wish to ignore files
ignore = Name .*
# ignores all files starting with . - ie. hidden files and directories
To execute the newly saved script, run:
unison scripts
There are many other repositries of information related to unison, such as in-depth discussion and the user manual