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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair

Regular blog here, 'microblog' there

Many of my traditional blog post live on this site, but a great majority of my social-style posts can be found on my much-busier microbloging site at updates.passthejoe.net. It's busier because my BlogPoster "microblogging" script generates short, Twitter-style posts from the Linux or Windows (or anywhere you can run Ruby with too many Gems) command line, uploads them to the web server and send them out on my Twitter and Mastodon feeds.

I used to post to this blog via scripts and Unix/Linux utilities (curl and Unison) that helped me mirror the files locally and on the server. Since this site recently moved hosts, none of that is set up. I'm just using SFTP and SSH to write posts and manage the site.

Disqus comments are not live just yet because I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for the domain on this site. I'll probably restore the old domain at first just to have some continuity, but for now I like using the "free" domain from this site's new host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

Mon, 28 Mar 2011

Debian Squeeze review from LinuxTweaking blog

Here’s a review of Squeeze from the LinuxTweaking blog.

The problem with Excito’s Bubba 3 server? It’s nearly $400. So where do I go from here?

I really like the idea of an ARM-based, Debian-running home server, and I really like Excito’s Bubba 3.

The only problem? The Bubba is .75 U.S. (€279.20, exchange rate calculated by Google).

What can I do between those less-than-hardy plug servers for and this item?

Here’s what I’m looking for: * Small form factor * Low power consumption * Linux or BSD OS * Uses standard SATA laptop hard drives * Fanless motherboard and power supply

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Sat, 26 Mar 2011

Server over desktop

I’ve been planning to build a computer for at least a year.

I started with the idea of a mini-ITX motherboard and case to produce a small, low-power desktop, to which I’d hook up a keyboard, mouse and monitor and use as a traditional desktop computer.

Since that time I’ve shed quite a bit of old hardware. And if you want my Sun Sparcstation 20 or Alix Sparcstation 10 clone, come and get them. All the rest of the desktops are gone.

I’m no believer in laptops. Desktops are tougher, easier to fix, better performing. But they stay on a desk.

And while I’m often at a desk myself, it’s generally not the same desk all the time. I’ve begun using Dropbox so my “critical” files are available on more than one computer and are always in sync. Thus far I’m a believer.

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Fri, 25 Mar 2011

I’m not jumping on Firefox 4 or GNOME 3 just yet

Even though I wrote about where and how to get Firefox/Iceweasel 4 for Debian, I’m sticking with 3.5.6 for now.

I won’t rule out a move to 3.6.x, but I’m going to wait until FF 4 is out in the wild long enough to get a few major bug-fix and security updates.

I’ve been using Chromium more and more, but I still spend a lot of time in Iceweasel/Firefox, and I continue to see a lot of value in a conservative approach to updating software.

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How about a Ubuntu LTS Backports repository?

In the comments to my article on Debian’s Mozilla team offering newer Iceweasel builds, I eventually wound around to an idea that I believe would provide an enormous benefit to Ubuntu users:

There should be an official Ubuntu LTS Backports repository.

I see a lot of value in the Ubuntu long-term-support releases, but they’re pretty much treated by the project as regular six-month releases with a longer support life.

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Thu, 24 Mar 2011

Iceweasel update today in Debian

Speaking of Iceweasel, there’s an update to version 3.5.16 today for Debian. Mine just rolled in for Squeeze.

Details are in the Debian Security Advisory, which references Jacob Appelbaum’s blog post for the Tor project for further details.

The short explanation: “This update for Iceweasel, a web browser based on Firefox, updates the certificate blacklist for several fraudulent HTTPS certificates.”

There are updates for Debian Lenny, Squeeze, Sid and Experimental. Time to run an update.

Wed, 23 Mar 2011

How to get a newer version of Iceweasel (aka Firefox) on your Debian box

I’m no Backports guru, though I’d like to become one. And squeeze-backports is still in its early stages and doesn’t yet have a newer version of Iceweasel, the renamed version of the Firefox web browser that ships with Debian.

So how do you get Iceweasel/Firefox 3.6 or even 4.0 on your Debian Squeeze, Lenny, Wheezy/Testing or Sid/Unstable box?

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Sat, 19 Mar 2011

A lot of updates in Debian Squeeze, including kernel and xorg

A whole bunch of updates to Debian Squeeze rolled into my system today:

The following packages will be upgraded: base-files console-setup cryptsetup desktop-base gdm3 gedit gedit-common gnome-screensaver keyboard-configuration libnautilus-extension1 libnm-glib-vpn1 libnm-glib2 libnm-util1 libpulse-mainloop-glib0 libpulse0 linux-base linux-headers-2.6.32-5-amd64 linux-headers-2.6.32-5-common linux-image-2.6.32-5-amd64 linux-libc-dev nautilus nautilus-data network-manager python python-dev python-minimal sudo ttf-liberation tzdata tzdata-java usb-modeswitch-data xserver-common xserver-xephyr xserver-xorg-core xserver-xorg-video-intel

This looks to be the first big update (that I can remember anyway) since Squeeze went Stable.

Mon, 14 Mar 2011

Use Ubuntu’s usb-creator in Debian

The new Debian images don’t need so much magic in order to be transferred to a USB stick. You can pretty much cat them over.

But if you want to use usb-creator from Ubuntu, you can pull the Lucid package.

Fri, 11 Mar 2011

How do I have my 3 GB drive partitioned in Debian?

Here’s the output of df -h:

steven@compaq:~$ df -h
Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda2             2.2G  1.5G  604M  71% /
tmpfs                  70M     0   70M   0% /lib/init/rw
udev                   65M  104K   65M   1% /dev
tmpfs                  70M     0   70M   0% /dev/shm
/dev/sda5             388M   85M  283M  24% /home

It doesn’t show in this output, but /dev/sda1 is 500 MB of swap. /dev/sda5 is a logical partition.

One of the helpful steps in the Debian Squeeze release notes, which you really should use when upgrading from Lenny, is to check how much disk space is needed to do the upgrade. I’ve been keeping a relatively large root partition (2.2 GB) for overhead in an upgrade, and if I remember correctly I didn’t need anywhere near that much space to do the Lenny-to-Squeeze transition.

I’ve been burned more than a couple of times when doing upgrades, both Linux and OpenBSD, when I ran out of space in a critical partition in the middle of the process. Being able to check before doing the upgrade is a very good thing.

Now that I know I don’t need all this space for applications, I could start up Parted Magic, shrink the root partition and expand the extended partition that holds /home.