Linux Blog

Are You Funding Open Source?

Filed under: General Linux — at 8:24 am on Friday, August 29, 2008

I was using a piece of software that I had heard about a while back that manages collections. Its called Tellico and is actually quite good. While using Tellico I discovered that when you click on the “Amazon link” for the product, it has an affiliate code in it.

For those of you who don’t know what an affiliate program is, its basically a way for people to make money just by refering people to products. Most of the big guys have these sorts of “programs” including Amazon. Affiliate programs are very popular in the triple X industry.

What frustrates me is that this is included in Tellico, so in effect when you visit a product from your own personal collection, Tellico gets a percentage of sales from Amazon for any other items you purchase. While the affiliate link doesn’t bother me so much as it can be changed (and I also participate in the program), its the fact that it came right out of the Fedora repositories like this.

What about if Ubuntu reworked its software and included affiliate links for everything? Perhaps a FireFox plugin that manipulated all Amazon requests to include Mandriva’s affiliate link. I think that this is against Amazons terms of service but this method is a potential way for open source developers and organizations to get some additional funding. But is it right? Preying on your end users ignorance for profit? Although it doesn’t harm anything is it moral?

Post Source:

Dealing with the HTML file input limitation of uploading multiple files

Filed under: General Linux — at 8:59 am on Thursday, August 28, 2008

Everybody knows how annoying the <input type=”file”> HTML tag is right? Does it make you mad when you have to browse and upload each file individually? Sure you can use JavaScript to add / remove the input boxes, but you still need to browse for each file individually, which if you’re uploading lots of files doesn’t make sense.

Would you like a multiple file uploader like Facebook has? Perhaps more of a simple explorer like interface that will allow you to select multiple files? Possibly previewing them, and perhaps processing them on the client side?

Well, I wouldn’t say it was the easiest thing in the world to implement but there is an open source multiple file uploader that might suit your needs. Since its written in Java, its highly expandable (if you know how or pay a development company or freelancer) and can also be partially configured with JavaScript.

What is this fantastic sounding multiple file uploader you speak of?

Its called jupload and can be downloaded from Don’t let the website fool you because this tool is actually pretty neat.

If any one would like examples on how to use it, just write a blog post linking to me saying how cool it is and how much you need it, offer me cash, comment or participate in this blog, offer me goods / services, give me links from your website or just e-mail me politely asking for help and I’ll see what I can do.

If you don’t like it: start reading the documentation like I did, seriously its not that hard.

Before you complain / ask about Java

Filed under: Linux Software — at 8:44 am on Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Before you ask why your Java applications don’t work, or why your applet doesn’t initialize in Firefox, Seamonkey or Whatever browser you use do you know what version of Java you are using?

“Yes, I installed the JRE 1.6.0_XX”,

Thats nice, but is it running? Now, it may seem as obvious as “Is your computer on?”  to some, but to others and I admit myself it isn’t always that obvious. I had installed the Java Runtime /JDK and tested my firefox. Programs worked from the command line, java -version provided me the correct Java version, but why were my applets failing to load?

The firefox plugin is the answer. Open up about:plugins in firefox and take a look at the Java providers. If you don’t see the Java(TM) plugin there then there is a problem. Refer to the Correct Java documentation on how to get this corrected. Basically you symlink a file and disable the other Java providers.

My Mind Stomps with OpenStomp.

Filed under: General Linux — at 4:21 pm on Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I’m always looking for ways to integrate Linux into my life more, and harness technology. As a mediocre guitar player and Professional Linux Geek I’ve often thought about Linux and guitar effects. Sure, there is a ton of software and homebrew hardware out there, but I’d like something more than that.

I’m sure by now (since its all over the news) that you’ve probably heard about the OpenStomp. Awesome concept! Lets make something quite complex to build, lets not give out the actual details about the internals of the device and lets claim to be the “Worlds first Open Source Effects Pedal”.

I was considering purchasing one of these until I found out the price. Then I thought, oh. I’ll purchase a parts kit. NO kit available. Then I though, oh I’ll just build one from scratch. HOW, with no public schematics?

Sorry my friends, having a website, a hardware device and a forum that you publish your source code to will not get me to purchase your device. Charging $349 for the pedal that you don’t provide plans for doesn’t go down well. If my commercial “closed box” gets fried, I don’t couldn’t care because it was cheap. The Open Stomp is a different story, What kind of Warranty do you offer?
I know you offer schematics if I purchase it, but what happens if it breaks with no modification in the first day?

What happens if a software update blows my StompBox up? You only have one OS listed on your forums page, are you going to post each version there? Do you have a public subversion repository? Come on StompBox, get your act together and post it on source forge before some one else does. Also while your at it post your schematics so that people can look at them and justify spending the $349 instead of building it. Give them away to capable developers that are interested in your product, you know the ones that will make your product popular by enhancing it.

If you are wondering, this being The Linux Blog and all, if I’m throwing a hissy because there is no Linux version available I’m not.  I couldn’t care less. There are ways around that and if it gets popular enough, there will be a version available. What I’m sour about is the fact that there is nothing “Open Source” about the OpenStomp, other than the huge lack of good documentation, and some source code that is posted in the forum.

I think I’ll go look at the old schematics for some “stomp boxes” and see about building them. Apparently this isn’t open since there is no source code involved. Jeez

Who syndicates

Filed under: The Linux Blog News — at 10:34 am on Monday, August 25, 2008

Please excuse this post, it has come to my attention that many sites are not attributing my work. This post is a first effort in finding out who is syndicating my posts, and who are abiding by the rules and who are not playing nicely. I am happy that people are willing to help distribute my content, but a link back is all that is required and not very difficult to do. So, my first question to the syndication bots of the net is “Who Syndicates” and my second one, will be answered directly from the first.

In other news I might be adding tags to TheLinuxBlog, and possibly some other features. If there is anything that you’d like to see, let me know!

Reworking Shell Scripts

Filed under: Shell Script Sundays — at 7:02 am on Sunday, August 24, 2008

To me shell Scripts are all about automation, their primary purpose is to get stuff done. If you have a one liner, snippet or other script you use on a regular basis, have you thought about how you could rework it for it to become more in handy?

Lets take last weeks snippet from this column. It was a simple one liner to reconnect to a host. Now, I knew when I posted this article that it was a helpful snippet of code. Now, how can this script be adapted to be a neat utility that we use on a regular basis? Over the next few week’s we’ll find out.

The first thing that I will note on is that this script or shell snippet is a pain to remember. Does a script save you time if you can’t remember how it works? Is it worth the hassle? Not exactly. So, in order to make this snippet a little better the first thing we are going to do is add something that it needs: parameters. Adding parameters to shell scripts is actually easy, much easier than adding parameters to some other languages that we wont mention. although this script does not use it getopts can be used. I’ve covered how to do this with getopts in other posts. Just do a site search (located at the bottom of the right bar for getopts.)

So, here is the modified script that automatically reconnects to a host by using ping and SSH:

# Sleep Time Default: 15 seconds
# Set a default user up
#usage function
usage () {
echo -e "Usage: $0 host [user] [Sleep Time]"
# display usage if no host is specified
[ -z $1 ] && { usage && exit 1; }
# set the variables
[ $1 ] && { HOST=$1; }
[ $2 ] && { USERNAME=$2; }
[ $3 ] && { STIME=$3; }
# trying:
echo -e "host: $HOST \nuser: $USERNAME \ndelay: $STIME"
while ! ping -W 1 -c 1 $HOST 2>&1 >/dev/null; do true; done && echo "Successful waiting: $STIME secs"; sleep $STIME; ssh $USERNAME@$HOST

Now that you have that done, all you need to do is give the file a name (I called mine ssh_auto) and put it in a folder in your path. Use the filename and parameters defined in the script to connect to the host.

The next shell scripting article I demonstrate how you can further rework shell scripts to better suit your needs.

What Read Times do you get on your hard disks?

Filed under: Linux Software — at 11:20 pm on Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hard drives are a vital part of system performance. They really are one of the biggest bottle necks in computing. Its nice to know how many MB/s your hard drives are capable of reading. If you perform the tests could share your results with other Linux Blog readers? With advances in hard drive technology I hope to see performance get better, and already see a major increase in performance over the old IDE type drives.

To check your hard drive read times use hdparm like so:

hdparm -t /dev/sdX

replacing sdX with whatever device your distribution assigned. Here are my results:

sda is my internal 80GB SATA drive.
Timing buffered disk reads:  224 MB in  3.02 seconds =  74.07 MB/sec
sdb is an internal 80GB IDE Drive
[owen@LinuxBlog ~]# hdparm -t /dev/sdb
Timing buffered disk reads:   62 MB in  3.09 seconds =  20.06 MB/sec
sdc is an internal 160GB IDE drive
[owen@LinuxBlog ~]# hdparm -t /dev/sdc
Timing buffered disk reads:   90 MB in  3.03 seconds =  29.70 MB/sec

The next two tests are rather interesting. sde is a brand new freshly formated 1TB external Western Digital MyBook Drive.

[owen@LinuxBlog ~]# hdparm -t /dev/sde
Timing buffered disk reads:    2 MB in  7.69 seconds = 266.25 kB/sec
[owen@LinuxBlog ~]# hdparm -t /dev/sde
Timing buffered disk reads:   68 MB in  3.01 seconds =  22.60 MB/sec

The first result was what the read time is like when you first initialize the drive. Since the drive was in power down, the read time was horrendous. This was fixed second time around. You will notice that the transfer rate over USB 2.0 is not all that bad in comparison to the internal IDE. Both IDE drives are not primary drives, and are also on the same channel. I’m not sure if that makes a difference or not. Also when I try to set DMA and 32 bit support I get an IOCTL error indicating that something went wrong, so I don’t think that this is a fair test.

Either way, post your results, if see if you can tweak the hard drive settings then see what the read times are. Check out my: Hard Drive Tuning with hdparm article.

Why you should sign up for my RSS Feed!

Filed under: The Linux Blog News — at 5:46 am on Friday, August 22, 2008

Why should you subscribe to my RSS feed?

Thats a good question and there are a couple of reasons I can think of off the top of my head.

For the longest time there was an application that I couldn’t remember the name of but thought the concept was as cool as the other side of the pillow. I remembered the name once an update to that application came into my subscribed feeds. I’m not saying I’ll keep you posted on every application or update that comes out, but I may jog your memory, spark some interest in something, help you figure something out or perhaps give you some ideas of your own.

You’ll be better able to participate, tell me how good/crappy my posts are and tell me I’m wrong or stupid. Either way, participation is good!

By subscribing to my RSS Feed I can tell how many actual readers I have. This is somewhat a measure of achievement or an ego booster for me to know that I have more than one reader.

Quite frankly I think results will vary from person to person and these outcomes are all just speculations but if you feel like making me happy whilst getting some useful information go ahead and click on the subscribe button. While your at it, if you have a Twitter go ahead and follow me on that too.

Just remember to keep your RSS reader open and if you choose not to subscribe to the RSS feed or following me then consider bookmarking, or making it part of your daily routine. If you have any questions or complaints you can always e-mail me at: owen @<> or drop me a comment. Thanks Guys!

Linux Cranks Podcast

Filed under: The Linux Blog News — at 4:55 am on Thursday, August 21, 2008

If you haven’t heard the Linux Cranks have a podcast and a live show. They’ve been around for a while so I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard about them, but this is for those that haven’t. The show is basically a bunch of Linux nerds talking about Linux and generally hating on everything.

They currently go live on Saturday nights at midnight eastern and I think that all if not most are welcome. The last time I listened to them live it was quite fun and they have some good topics to talk about and a a fair share of crankyness.

The podcast is well put together from the show and is all in good fun (I think) but be warned there may be some language some may consider to be foul, vulgar or repulsive. Some people such as young children, co-workers and even animals (mostly cats) with sensitive feelings may not be suited to listen, but if you think you can hack it, give it a shot.

After all it is the intrawebs, and if you don’t like it you don’t have to listen.

They asked if I was going to give them a bad review since there were some technical problems with TalkShoe when I said I wouldn’t they then said I was going to ruin their reputation, so this is more of a recommendation or a notice to let you know that you should listen to it and get your crank on. Look forward to seeing you there some time.

irc: #linuxcranks

Logging Sessions to Twitter

Filed under: Linux Software — at 12:01 am on Wednesday, August 20, 2008

If you follow me on Twitter you would know I asked everyone if there was anything that they wanted me to write about. @Ben_Marvin responded and asked about logging the commands you type to Twitter.At first, I thought that this could be done with history, which it probably can be, but does everything you type really have to be echo’ed to Twitter? I don’t think that you’d have many friends, Twitter would probably hate you and you’d most likely hit your maximum requests per hour pretty quickly.The Script command is another option, and this works quite well for this purpose. Read the script man page to find out more about this program. It basically (when ran) takes the I/O from your terminal and logs it to a file. Its a very handy utility.So, how do we get this data into Twitter? First of all, Twitter doesn’t allow very long posts so echoing out the data that the commands you type is not really practical. The best way to do it is to use script to log the session, exit the session and grep for the “]0\;” string for stuff you typed & not the responses.Here is the code:

script; grep ]0\; typescript 

You can then copy and paste it to your favorite Twitter application or pipe it to a scrubbing script to remove the formatting and do the correct HTML stuff, then post it via the http interface. Either way, it can be done even though I don’t think it really should.

Simplify Media: How’d they do that?

Filed under: General Linux — at 4:39 am on Tuesday, August 19, 2008

By now every bodies probably heard about the service which just released an application for the iPhone / iTouch that basically lets you stream your, or your friends music though your phone. Its integrated with iTunes, Winamp and RhythmBox on Linux which is pretty cool. I think this is a neat idea and started thinking: “How’d they do that?”

It seems like it would be pretty difficult to achieve something like this, but in fact the concept is quite simple.

iTunes has a DAAP server built in for multimedia streaming media. What Simplify Media does is connect the stream to their server and then when another client (iPhone app / friend) logs in, if the Simplify Media application is running (on your PC) it lets you know and lets you start streaming it.

I have not analyzed to find out the EXACT method of how it works quite yet but I assume that it either uses Simplify Media’s bandwidth to stream (over https) or creates a reverse connection some how. If any one knows the details I’d be interested to know.

My other thoughts / questions on this are:

Will there be a free DAAP client available for the iPhone / iTouch?
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could record the streams?
How long before Apple pulls this application?
Will AT&T or Simplify Media kick you off, throttle, or even worse charge you for using this service?
If they are using Simplify Media’s bandwidth how are they making money?
How long will it be or will there ever be an open implementation of this?

I can’t really answer any of these questions so, if any one wants to take a stab at answering them go for it!

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