Linux Blog


Filed under: Linux for Newb's — aaron at 7:42 am on Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Well, it seems as though I’ve managed to find a way to fill up the HDD’s on both my mac lappys.  Tried installing Ubuntu on the G4, but I’ve currently been using it as something of a Media PC and though my files are backed up, it’s the only computer in the apartment that I can hook up to my TV (that works anyway). 

Tried partitioning the HDD on the G4, but I don’t have enough space for UBUNTU (quite a bit of space for a Linux distro.)  However, I DO have an old TOSHIBA lappy sitting around without a screen that works (though the video card works, so video out, yay). I’m just going to wipe it and hook it up to a monitor, learn that way I guess.  This I’ll do later today (it’s 6:04am).  

Went by the library today and picked up a few Linux newb books (no LINUX FOR DUMMIES, I WAS SADDENED). So I’ll be reading that.  In the meantime, here’s a review for a documentary about Linux I just got my hands on, relatively speaking.  The documentary: REVOLUTION OS.

So, what can I say about this flick other than I’ve watched it twice now and it seems like it’d be a pretty good documentary for someone (like yours truly) dipping his toe into the wide wide world of Linux.  It’s somewhat of a history lesson more than a “this is how you get started” lesson.  The reason I’ve watched it twice, other than it being intriguing, is so I could take notes the second time ’round to get a better idea of what I could tell you guys about it.

We start off with something of a cocaphony of talking heads, Eric Raymond (author of THE CATHEDRAL AND THE BAZAAR) and BRUCE PERENS (author of the OPEN SOURCE DEFINITION, along with some guys at DEBIAN), going on about this and that, not really making much sense at first.  Then we dive into the history lesson. 

We skip all of the AT&T Unix development and head straight into Stallman and his work on AI at MIT.  At some point he became frustrated with passwords and Operating systems he couldn’t work with.  He quit his job at MIT and began working on GNU (something I’ve discussed earlier).  The problem with GNU is that the FREE SOFTWARE camp had created all that was needed for a working Operating System, but lacked a working, debugged Kernel.  

This is where our good pal Linus came in, saw the GNU software and decided to write a workable, monolithic KERNEL when, combined with the GNU software, gave birth to what we have all come to know as an early stage of Linux. 

Flawed, of course, at first, but working and, believing in the GPL, he distributed this software.  That’s when things really became interesting.  As people all over the world got their hands on this Open Source code, they were able to mess around with it, play with it, improve upon it, and before long, we began to see multiple variations, each an improvement or failure upon the other.

Stallman, of course, played the part of a d-bag, for certain, and there followed all sort of revelations upon the history of linux, the evolution, etc.  I’m not going to continue rambling on about it.  All I can say is, if you have an interest in Linux, whether new or old, this is definitely a flick you’ve got to check out.  So, rent it, download it, do what you’ve gotta do, but I’m tellin’ ya, check it out.  It’s one step closer(for me anyway) to understanding.

Anyway, I’ve got some sleep to catch on, followed up by installation on that Toshiba and a great amount of reading, so, check out REVOLUTION OS.  I give it 4 out of 5 penguins.

Until next time, fellow newbs…


Filed under: Linux for Newb's — aaron at 4:14 am on Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Well fellow Linux newbies, looks like I’m going to have to RTFM hardcore.  Doesn’t look like I quite knew what I was getting myself into.

Take Ubuntu, for example, the distro. I’m starting out with because it has a nice clean GUI and all the kids are doing it these days.  Seems like I’m going to have to actually INSTALL it on a machine, perhaps partition off part of the HDD on one of my lappys and just run with it, because, for now, there’s not much I can do with it.  I can check out all sorts of things going on internally with my machine, etc. etc., but the real meat ‘n potatos I think won’t come ’til I’ve taken the plunge and fully installed it.

I WILL tell you what it CAN be handy for though.  Say you’ve got a bad Windows O/S corruption (because, you know, THAT never happens), and you can’t get into the operating system.  OH NOES!!!!1!1!!!!1!  You can always take out your HDD, get one of those do-it-yourself external HDD rigs and attempt to get your entire Britney Spears Discography and Myspace Pose pics, OR you could simply pop in a bootable Ubuntu distro (fits on a CD or Flash Drive) and boot to that (this is assuming of course that you can’t boot into SAFE MODE in windows as well which means, well, that your OS is really hosed.  But back to what I was saying…pop one of those suckers in, boot from it (obviously) and you’re free to move about the cabin and back up all of those files to an external source before completely wiping the OS and starting fresh…perhaps with UBUNTU or some other flavor of Linux.

Sorry if the post is too short ‘n sweet, but I have some research to do and some playing around before I post again, I just thought I’d pop in a little something in the meantime.

Until next time!

To Script, or not To Script

Filed under: Shell Script Sundays — at 3:23 pm on Sunday, December 21, 2008

I hate doing manual repetitive labor. There is something about it that just bores me to death. Perhaps this is why I like shell scripting so much. To me it is one of the most useful things about the terminal. All the time I’m working I’m thinking about automation.

“Can this be automated?”
“Can I improve this process?”

Most of the time tasks can be automated in some fashion, and a simple shell script can be written. Its very useful. One of the problems about being able to shell script is the self discipline to say, no I’ll do this by hand. The reason being is that a lot of the time the learning curve and potential problems of automating a process are costly upfront, therefore taking you more time in the long run. So, next time you think about using shell scripting for automation ask yourself if it is really worth it. Depending on your workload, perhaps on the third of fourth time round it will be worth considering it. If you’re not busy and are up for a challenge, by all means knock yourself out!

A Readers Digest History of Linux

Filed under: Linux for Newb's — aaron at 9:19 am on Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Well, I suppose a bit of an introduction is in order before I begin. I’m Aaron, a friend of Owen, and I’ve always been mystified by his ability to use Linux (command line wizard) to do just about anything he wants. Whenever he touches a machine, he’s able to take complete control over it by getting down to the very base of Linux and I’d find myself suddenly in awe at the wonderful things I’m seeing on either his machine or mine, because, somehow, he’s suddenly on my machine (he’s in my b4s3, k1ll1n my d00dz). So we came to the conclusion that, instead of my mystification, I start learning about this mysterious world of Linux and the Linux community.

For the first article, I reckon we should go into a brief, “Readers Digest” version of the history of Linux. Linux as we know it was developed in 1991 by Linux Torvalds based upon the GNU code written by, or at least announced by, Richard Stallman in 1983. Just knowing that dispels the myth that Linux is based upon Unix as GNU stands for “Gnu is Not Unix.” This often leads to the use of the term GNU/LINUX. Ok, moving on.
(Read on …)

Check if SELinux is Enabled

Filed under: Shell Script Sundays — at 10:41 am on Monday, December 8, 2008

This weeks (now late) Shell Script Sundays (posted on Monday) article is a short one on a check to see if SELinux is enabled. While SELinux has some great security enhancements it can present a number of problems in applications and shell scripts alike. There is a simple utility that comes with many Linux distributions called “selinuxenabled”

selinuxenabled exits with a status of 1 if it is not enabled and 0 if it is. Zero normally means false but in this case since it is an exit status it is an exception. So, if you need to do a quick check, you may just run selinuxenabled. You will quickly find that it returns nothing. To figure out the exit status for your quick check, put an ampersand (&) at the end, and it will tell you the exit status. eg:

[ ~]# selinuxenabled &
[1] 28417
[1]+  Exit 1                  selinuxenabled

As we can see from the example above SELinux is disabled.

To use selinuxenabled in your scripts you would use it like any other command. Refer to Shell Scripting 101 for some more information. selinuxenabled can also be used in your scripts to make sure that selinux is enabled, which can be useful if you are trying to do security audits across multiple machines.

Throw a rave when you work too hard

Filed under: Linux Software — at 7:36 pm on Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Workrave is an awesome little utility that I just found out about almost a week ago now. Basically what it does is sits in your tray and bugs you when you should take breaks. Its really simple to use, and is in the Fedora repositories. Since, my Open SUSE laptop is at home and off, I can’t tell you if it is in there but my guess is that Debian / Ubuntu also have this package. Once you’ve got it installed by whatever means possible, run it. Its very easy to use, but I would advise setting up your defaults. If you don’t you’ll be taking a short rest break once every 3 minutes, which I find to be a bit excessive. You also get rest breaks, which advise you to stand up and walk around, and do stretches. It has some great statistics such as how many keystrokes you make, how many breaks you’ve taken. It also accounts for “natural” rest breaks, so if there is no activity on your computer, it thinks you are idle. Although I have not tried it there is network support for Workrave. Perhaps one day I will try it. If you spend a long time in front of the computer at home or work (like I’m doing today) then this may be the application for you, especially if you are trying to avoid doing work. getting fatigued. Talking of work, I had better get back to what I was doing; oh yea, taking a break.