Linux Blog

Linux CD Ripping Utilities

Filed under: Linux Software — at 12:33 am on Wednesday, January 21, 2009

CD Ripping with Linux doesn’t have to be the labor intensive task that it once was. No longer do we have the days of writing a hundred character command to rip a CD with the perfect options. Here are some utilities aimed at making your life of ripping your collection of CD’s to a digital format you can actually use.

First up for review is Grip. Grip is an gtk application that can play, rip and encode CD’s. It is really easy to use and is my CD ripping utility choice.

While the interface is not as pretty as it could be I guess its not hard to fool you that grip means business.

All you have to do to rip an entire CD is put it in, wait a couple of seconds and Bobs your uncle it found your track information from Next hop on over to the “Rip” tab and hit “Rip+Encode”. Since we didn’t select any tracks it should squawk and ask if you really wanted to try and rip no tracks, or if you just want to go ahead and rip the entire CD. I always hit entire CD and move along.

Before you get too excited and to a yum install grip and start ripping your entire collection keep in mind that you will have to install the dependencies (usually lame) and change the format under the “Config->Encode->Encoder” tab. This is not really a big deal and for your convenience grip will remember your settings. There are no sounds when a rip is finished (which can be frustrating either way,) but there it does eject your CDROM for you.

Goobox is next. Just as easy to install, just as easy to use and it’s also another gtk application. Goobox has a slightly more boring interface with less options. If your looking for a Gnome based CD ripper with a minimal interface this is the one to choose.

I think its about time for a KDE utility. KAudioCreator has an interface very similar to Goobox. You will first have to select an encoder from the “settings->encoder” tab. You can then pop a CD in and it works its magic just like the other CD rippers, well that is right after you hit the “Rip Selection” button which is the KDE gear.

Try them and let me know which one you like the best. GUI’s are nice but nothing can compare to a command line utility and this CD changing robot

Fedora 9 Thunderbird Update Fix

Filed under: Linux Software — at 12:01 am on Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fedora 9 Thunderbird
While updating a Fedora 9 installation I ran across an error. The error was with the Mozilla Thunderbird package that I use on a regular basis.
The error looked like this:

 Running Transaction
Updating       : thunderbird                                                                                                                                                  1/2
Error unpacking rpm package thunderbird-
error: unpacking of archive failed on file /usr/lib/thunderbird- cpio: rename

Obviously any fix that I implemented couldn’t loose my mail. The problem was with the dictionaries more specifically the /usr/lib/thunderbird- file. The error is not very specific but lets us know its having trouble unpacking the archive and ends with cpio: rename. So here is what I did to solve the problem:

 cd /usr/lib/thunderbird-
sudo mv dictionaries dictionaries-old

Thunderbird data is stored in ~/.thunderbird it is advisable you make a backup of your mail if it is that important to you. I didn’t since this directory is a library directory and all of my mail can be downloaded again with imap. If you use pop you may want to consider doing a backup. After doing this it fixed Thunderbird and I’m all up to date. Horray!

Let me know if it worked for you and I’ll let you all know if there are any problems.

An rsync primer

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Software — at 12:55 am on Tuesday, January 13, 2009

An rsync Primer

rsync is a great tool used to copy or “sync” files locally or remotely. Having just lost a fair amount of important personal data its good to make the point that you can lose data if you use rsync, so make sure that you know what you are doing works before putting it into production.
“Whats so great about rsync?”
I hear you ask.

Well, there are many ways of copying data around, regular old cp, scp and rcp but what sets rsync apart is that it’s capable of syncing those files that have changed, or those that are missing. In other words, why do a full copy of all files, risking further corruption when only some have changed?
rsync also handles compression and verifies that the files were written correctly.
The syntax for rsync is fairly straightforward, those of you familiar with the rcp or scp should be easily able to relate to that of rsync.

The syntax for a local file copy is:

rsync [OPTION...] SRC... [DEST]

-avz is the option that I use most commonly.

-a for archive, -v for verbose and -z for compression. As lame as it may sound, I actually remember the syntax for this as “Alien Vs. Zeus.” Sounds stupid, but it actually works.

Since I do not normally sync directories locally, one of my hosts is usually remote. rsync is configured to use SSH by default, but rsh can be used if preferred. I stick with the default SSH for simplicity. The syntax is very similar to scp’s

To Pull: rsync [OPTION...] [USER@]HOST:SRC... [DEST]
To Push: rsync [OPTION...] SRC... [USER@]HOST:DEST

If you like to back up all files matching a pattern the same syntax applies but you specify a pattern. An example is you could backup all .conf files from /etc (provided you have read access) to another host by doing the following:

rsync /etc/*.conf [USER@]HOST:DEST

If you do the above, I am assuming that you would also want to backup other configuration files within the /etc/ directory. Instinct tells you if you have read the man page to just use -r however you may want to just do a full backup as rsync with a pattern by default does not traverse into directories.

Compression is really a nice feature for transferring large amounts of data. To demonstrate the speed increases that the -z option gives my full /etc/ directory which is 48M. It took 0m12.671s with compression and 0m35.657s without. This was over wireless from a dual core 2GHz laptop to a 1.8GHz wired desktop, so your results may vary. Either way compression or no compression rsync is a handy utility that should be able to make your life of copying files around a little easier.

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.

sl the BOFH’s revenge for bad typists

Filed under: Linux Software — at 9:57 am on Wednesday, November 19, 2008

If you don’t know what BOFH is, then lets try wikipedia. This morning in my feed reader from was an article that “makes you pay attention.”

Basically, the article software package they were recommending today is sl. I couldn’t resist commenting on this. There are many times that I am stuck over a slow SSH session, all I need is the server admin, or BOFH coming along, installing sl and making my life a pain.

So, I installed it on my desktop. What an excellent piece of software. If you run Fedora its in the yum repos and you should give it a shot. Now, all I have to do is symlink this to other useful binaries that I commonly mistype, don’t have installed and for good operator measures, some that I do.

Its too bad that I couldn’t run this through wall, but I guess I could run it as a cron. I think it should have a config file so that you could work it a bit more. Perhaps as it steams through make the smoke spell a message. Any way, thats my ranting and rambling over for the morning. Now to yum remove.

Forwarding Ports over an active SSH connection

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Software,Quick Linux Tutorials — at 12:01 am on Tuesday, October 7, 2008

There is no doubt about it that SSH is a handy administration and remote access tool. Have you ever wanted to add port forwarding or cancel port forwarding from within an active SSH connection? Well, a feature that many do not know about is the ssh escape feature. With this pseudo terminal you can do some nifty things, such as forward ports over an active SSH connection.

To do this, follow these instructions:
(Read on …)

Office 2007 docx to ODF Conversion

Filed under: Linux Software — at 10:38 pm on Monday, September 29, 2008

I was going to write an article on how to open docx’s and other Office 2007 documents but there are numerous articles out there explaining how to do this on many distributions. They all basically say the same thing, you download the file, extract it and put it in your open office directory. Normally there are a couple of files but the on we are interested in is the main binary. What some people don’t know is that if you want to just quickly open or convert a document you can do so by using the odfconverter binary. (Read on …)

Charting your boot processes with bootchart

Filed under: Linux Software,Quick Linux Tutorials — at 4:57 pm on Monday, September 22, 2008

Linux users often like to boast about their awesome bootup times. I thought that there was nothing cooler than getting a wicked fast bootup time, until now. A while back I found this nifty application called bootchart and shoved it in my bookmarks. I was randomly surfing my bookmarks, came across it again and gave it another shot. (Read on …)

KDE End User Wiki

Filed under: Linux Software — at 10:27 am on Friday, September 19, 2008

Today the KDE User base wiki ( went live. If you’ve ever searched for information regarding an issue with KDE, its possible you would have come across the techbase ( The KDE Techbase is aimed more at developers and has some really good content regarding development. The KDE userbase Wiki also has some great information and you can learn a lot about KDE just by reading it. If you are a developer or an end user the userbase can be of great help, I just learned something new about plasma application launchers, check it out!

Using Subversion with SSH & Custom Ports

Filed under: Linux Software,Quick Linux Tutorials — at 9:09 am on Monday, September 15, 2008

Lets say you use subversion on your home PC to keep track of projects and you want to checkout or export your project from a remote location. Here’s the catch, sshd is running on a custom port or forwarded from another. For some reason the command line SVN client does not support a port parameter when using the defacto svn+ssh://

svn co svn+ssh:// project1
ssh: connect to host port 22: Connection refused

Well we know why the error above happens its because I happen to run SSH on port 1337. The following work around requires root privileges, and may mess with your system a bit but if you really need to check something out, then it will work.

As root, login and stop SSH if you run it. With SSH Forward port 22 with a local SSH forwarding connection to the remote host.

[]$ sudo su -
[]$ /sbin/service sshd stop
[]$ ssh -p 1337 22:[internal ip]:1337

Once this is done, your localhost:22 now forwards to your remote host. With another session (on your local machine) you can verify the connection by using ssh localhost. You will probably get warnings about the hosts identity being changed, or not verifying it, but you can ignore then. Once you’ve tested it, just use SVN as normal. When finished, remember to logout of the SSH session, and start SSH back up again if you run it.

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.

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