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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.

Wed, 29 Jun 2011

Packages I’ve added to LibreOffice in Debian Squeeze

I’ve added a few packages from Debian Backports related to LibreOffice to my Squeeze installation:

libreoffice-pdfimport (on the chance that I’ll actually do this some day)

and more importantly:

libreoffice-gnome, which makes LibreOffice look like it belongs in the GTK/GNOME world I’m working in.

libreoffice-gnome brought along a couple of dependencies, libreoffice-gtk and libreoffice-style-tango

I also added the mozilla-libreoffice plugin.

Packages I didn’t add

I didn’t add the libreoffice-emailmerge and libreoffice-evolution plugins because I can’t see using them.

Disclaimer: I used the Synaptic Package Manager to install the new packages. Once you have a new repository (like Debian Backports) set up, you can pluck packages at will in Synaptic without any special command-line magic, if that’s your thing (avoiding command-line magic) — not that there’s anything wrong with it.

Mon, 27 Jun 2011

Want to get involved in Debian? Raphael Hertzog needs your help

I’m a subscriber to Debian Developer Raphael Hertzog’s e-mail updates, which I recommend highly — as I do visiting his website when those updates come through.

He’s a developer who has a great interest in helping out the end user, and I appreciate all he does very much.

One thing in a recent entry caught my eye: Raphael is looking for people who want to start getting involved in Debian. He has a page on the Debian Wiki on which he’s looking for people to help with dpkg, the developers-reference, the Package Tracking System, SAT-britney and the WordPress and quilt packages.

Skills needed range from coding in Perl and/or C (for dpkg) to a knowledge of good written English (developers-reference).

Having Raphael as a mentor sounds pretty good, if you ask me.

Raphael is also soliciting donations for the English translation of his Debian Handbook. He doesn’t have the donation mechanism set up yet, but once he does, I’ll let you know. Any book on Debian helps the entire project, and I’m eagerly awaiting this one.

Official Debian announcement on the move from OpenOffice to LibreOffice

I’ve already made my move in Debian Squeeze from OpenOffice to LibreOffice, and a peek in my unread messages from the Debian mailing lists turned up this official announcement:

Debian moves to LibreOffice

Here is some of the text (a short how-to-install for Squeeze is included in the official newsletter):

The Debian project is proud to announce that the transition from OpenOffice.org to LibreOffice has now been completed. LibreOffice has already been available for “testing” and “unstable” since March and has now been backported to Debian 6.0 “Squeeze”, too.

Rene Engelhard, Debian’s LibreOffice maintainer and member of LibreOffice’s Engineering Steering Committee, says: “I am sure Debian and its users will benefit greatly from this transition; I expect not only an improved collaboration but also quicker development cycles.”

If you’re going to subscribe to one Debian mailing list, I recommend Debian News.

Sun, 26 Jun 2011

Debian Squeeze updated to 6.0.2 -- and my nostalgic trip back in free-software time

There are 60-something updates waiting for me in Debian Squeeze at the moment, and such a large number of packages staring at me from Update Manager usually means a “major” Debian Stable update.

In this case it’s the second update of Debian Squeeze, 6.0.2. Check the link for everything changing in Debian in terms of bugfixes and and security updates.

As always, while new installation media is available for download, any Debian 6.x image will still install a system that can be fully updated via the usual tools (apt, Aptitude, Synaptic/Update Manager).

Whether or not this point release is some kind of milestone (it’s not, I think), it’s a good time as any to assess where I’ve been on the Linux and BSD desktop over the past few years. Am I setting a personal longevity record with Debian Squeeze?

If you don’t count Sarge, and I don’t because I’m running it on my Sun Sparcstation 20 now and not in the deep, dark past when Sarge was the current Stable release, Squeeze is third Debian Stable release I’ve run for significant periods of time.

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I hate to say it, but one of the first things you need to do in Debian is remove Gnash

It’s been a long time since I did a new Debian Squeeze installation, and I was just reminded about one essential step needed to make a functional desktop.

I’ve been running my Squeeze LXDE system today, and all of a sudden the CPU was pegged at 100 percent during a Firefox/Iceweasel session.

I opened up a terminal and took a look. Five Gnash processes were doing all of the damage.

Normally I’d enthusiastically support something like Gnash, a free alternative to Flash, but not when it brings my system to its virtual knees.

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Fri, 24 Jun 2011

Installing LibreOffice in Debian Squeeze from Backports without a hitch

It's not the least eventful package installation I've ever done in Linux and BSD, but tapping into Debian Backports to install the Document Foundation's new LibreOffice suite and replace the formerly Oracle-controlled, now-in-limbo OpenOffice is fairly easy if you follow the steps, refrain from panic and just type in the letter "y" a few times.

I added the Backports repository to my sources, issued the Aptitude command and then watched as the system removed OpenOffice and replaced it with LibreOffice.

I didn't use the Synaptic Package Manager for this installation. Instead I used Aptitude, which I tend to trust more when things get complicated.

Here are my comments on the installation as well as the terminal session. In the short preamble, commands or text I entered in the system as well as their locations are in italic. Once the terminal output starts, my additions/comments are in bold.

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Wed, 22 Jun 2011

If you’re running Iceweasel 4.0.1 from mozilla.debian.net, change your sources to Iceweasel 5.0

I don’t exactly keep tabs on what’s happening at Mozilla with Firefox/Iceweasel, but I came across this ZDNet article: Attention Firefox 4.x users - Firefox 5.0 is your security update by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes.

The short version is that Mozilla is continuing development for Firefox not in the 4.0.x series but in 5.x. So there will presumably be no security updates past 4.0.1, which is what I’m running now from the Debian Mozilla Team’s repository.

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Tue, 21 Jun 2011

LibreOffice is now in Debian Squeeze Backports

Turmoil in the free-office-suite world has led to the formation of the Document Foundation and its forking of OpenOffice.org into LibreOffice, and much if not most of the Linux world has declared its support for the more-community-oriented LibreOffice.

Just about every major (and most minor) Linux distribution that used to ship OpenOffice.org is now either already shipping or pledging to ship LibreOffice instead. I get the feeling that some will continue to offer OpenOffice in their repositories, but when it comes to the default office suite going forward, LibreOffice will fill that roll.

If I’m not incorrect, Ubuntu, OpenSuse and Fedora are already shipping LO.

And LibreOffice has been available in Debian Sid and Wheezy for awhile.

But what about Debian Squeeze, the project’s Stable release? Stable Debian releases traditionally don’t get new packages in their core repositories. That means LibreOffice will be included in the next Stable release, the current Testing release (Wheezy). Wheezy will be declared stable sometime in the future. I’d say a year from now.

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Sat, 11 Jun 2011

What I need to work with Windows

Yes, I do use Windows. XP and 7, depending on the hardware.

So what software and services do I bring along for the ride?

  • Notepad++
  • IrfanView
  • Firefox
  • Thunderbird
  • FileZilla
  • Dropbox
  • Avast! Free Antivirus
  • Google Chrome
  • Pidgin
  • GIMP
  • Inkscape
  • Audacity

I'll write more about each of these applications in the future. They're sort of in order of most valuable to least. The Notepad++ text editor and IrfanView image viewer/editor are definitely my top 2 applications in Windows.

Fri, 10 Jun 2011

Moving my Ode blog

I had some trouble with the domain under which this still-emerging Ode blog began its life.

Long story short, I moved the blog from a subdomain to the main stevenrosenberg.net domain on my hosted space.

Making the move was easy. All I had to do was move the files from one part of the web server to another, after which I edited the paths in ode.cgi and ode_config to point to the new location.

Unfortunately all my files got new date stamps, and the original entry, which you might see below this one, also has a June 10, 2011 date, since Ode (and Blosxom before it) uses the text file's creation date as the post date.

In my test Blosxom site (not online at present), I managed to install the addin that preserves the original file date. I'm planning to install the Indexette addin in Ode to do the same thing. At that point I'll correct the original date. I'm in the habit of putting the numerical date into the filename of just about everything I do, so it won't be hard to remember that original file date when I finally do have Indexette installed and working.

I also added a favicon.ico. I lifted the one from the main Ode site. I'll replace it eventually when I dig deeper into the design.