Linux Blog

Ubuntu a generic distro

Filed under: General Linux — Kaleb at 2:04 pm on Friday, April 4, 2008

Ok so I was checking my daily digg news and i came across one of the more popular things dug that day which was Is Ubuntu becoming the generic Linux distro?

Ok now aside from the fact that this guy has had a total of like a year of Linux use and is not very well formed to actually express his opinion on the statement, I agree with his opinion. I suggest you read his blog to understand fully what this article will entail but to sum it up, he thinks that Ubuntu is becoming Linux and that to some new users Linux is Ubuntu.

I think he is right in this aspect. Many new users that I have talked to seem to think that Ubuntu is Linux and Linux is Ubuntu which you may or may not know is not true. Ubuntu is Linux yes, but Linux is not Ubuntu. I do not think that Ubuntu being a “generic” Linux distro is a bad thing. However I think it is a bad thing when new Linux users use Ubuntu and only Ubuntu because it does not express the actual power of Linux which is the community and the openness. Some new Ubuntuers (Ubuntu users) seem to think that by using Ubuntu they are getting the full Linux experience and that all Linux distros are the same or worse. So why change? Now you should all know that all Linux distros are not the same, and that they are definitely not worse. The thing about Linux is that one distro is not for everybody. Each distro has its uses and different users may like different distros for what they do. For example I use Gentoo and Arch Linux because I think Gentoo gives you the best performance and options for software packages, and that Arch gives you a very clean and fast operating system. Very fast (if you haven’t tried arch I suggest you do, it has the fastest package manager I have seen). And Owen likes Slackware for his reasons. That right there sums up the power of Linux.

I think that having a generic Linux distro is a good thing in some areas, for example, like what Ubuntu has been doing so far it brings lots of new users to the Linux world from both Windows and Macintosh worlds. However like I previously stated. Linux is not Ubuntu, so what do we need to do, show these new Ubuntuers the way. Show them out into the openness of the Linux world and express to them that Ubuntu is not the only way to go. What I suggested on my comment to this guys post was that (I know it will never happen because Ubuntu wants users and does not care about the other distros) Ubuntu should have some kind of a post install pop-up that has something like “Ubuntu is not for everyone, try out some of these other Linux distros…” and have it list some other distros that Ubuntu has partnered with. Doing something like this, I think would drastically increase the power of the Linux community as it continues to bring new users to the Linux world.

Now with that said, I think that us non-Ubuntu users should not poke fun of those Ubuntuers, like I have seen countless times on IRC and forums and what not. What we should express for them is that there may be another, better way to go, which may be in the form of a different Linux distro.

This has been my rant on Ubuntu as a generic Linux distro, thanks for reading

Kaleb Porter

IRC: magma_camel (find me in the #archlinux channel on (my website is undergoing hardcore maintenance so it is currently offline)

What Linux Topics Should I Blog About?

Filed under: The Linux Blog News — at 6:13 am on Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I just have a few quick questions for everybody so I’ll try to keep this short.
I’ve been blogging (sort of) for almost a year on this blog now and would like to know what keeps you coming back?

I’ve tried to keep the topics related to what I would want to read about. With Linux its hard to not blog about something that isn’t written some where else (which is part of the beauty of Linux) but what does everybody want to read about?

I could post articles that I’ve found explaining how to do certain things, link to other peoples articles / videos or I could continue to do what I’ve been doing.

One thing I would like to see is more participation from my readers. If you have a blog, feel free to comment and link back to your blog posts or give examples. Call me out when something doesn’t work or I’m wrong, I won’t be offended. Comments are moderated to prevent spam, but once you’ve commented once, you are pretty much pre-approved.

One last time (at least for this month) I’m looking for people to write for The Linux Blog. I’m looking for all levels of Linux users from the novice to the quote un-quote “Linux Expert”. Basically I’m looking for more reader participation. I put quite a bit of thought and hard work into maintaining this blog and don’t think its too unreasonable to ask for this. Especially since the advertising doesn’t seem to be working out.

Oh, BTW I’m still working on an OpenSource Bomgar solution :)

Until next time, be safe!

Linux Christmas Gifts

Filed under: General Linux — at 1:43 pm on Saturday, December 15, 2007

With Christmas rapidly approaching time is running out to buy gifts for all of your family.

With this I post the question: “What are you getting for your Linux Geek for Christmas?”.

Gifts for Linux users are hard to find, luckily for you the reader I’ve compiled this handy list of Linux Swag (KEYWORD) that you can buy your Linux Geek.

1) Top choice is gadgets. Now they can vary in price so maybe you could team up with a couple of friends to afford something or get a gift card if your not exactly sure what to buy. USB Hard drives are great choices, if you know they already have drives check out the Linux Based NSLU2 from major big box stores. Its a great little box that your Linux geek will know exactly what to do with. If you’ve got a lot of money to spare a Fox Box (I haven’t posted about this yet) will be the perfect gift. Make sure you order now or you might not get it in time for christmas unless you live in Europe.

2) Clothing is a good gift. Get your Linux geek some nice clothes. T-Shirts are great choices here are some in order by taste: “Generic Linux Shirt“, “Arrogant Linux Elitist” or stuff from the Open Source and hack wear sections are my favorite.

3) When you need to get the job done some times Caffeine is essential. That link has a ton of products not only to give to Linux geeks but for Linux geeks to give.

Well, I hope this has given you some ideas on what to buy Linux geeks for Christmas :)

Linux Torrent Client

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Software — at 11:15 am on Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Every body these days knows what BitTorrent is. For those that don’t BitTorrent is a great way to download large files. Some times it is faster to download an ISO of a Linux distribution by torrent then by ftp or http. This is because bit torrent is Peer-to-Peer meaning that many people share the file rather than one bogged down server. If your interested in how BitTorrent works, check out WikiPedia’s BitTorrent Page

In order to download a .torrent file you need a client. Fortunately Linux users are in luck because there are a lot of Linux Torrent clients out there.

Every one has favorites, in this post I’m listing my favorite Linux Torrent Client, both graphical and command line based. If you know of a better client suited to download torrents please let me know!

My Favorite Linux Torrent Clients

My favorite graphical torrent client is actually a cross platform BitTorrent client. Many people will have already heard of this one as it is one of the most popular: Azureus
It has a really neat graphical interface that has a lot of features. The client can be skinned which means you can make it match your desktop if your into eye candy. For screenshots check the Azureus website and the google image search results for Azureus Linux screenshots.

Now don’t get me wrong I’m all about graphical interfaces. Computing as we know it today would not be the same if it was not for the user interface, but there are still great uses for shell applications. Primary development of a killer app doesn’t always start with a pretty interface. Which is why I bring up the next client that I really like. This is the Linux client by Bram Cohen. In Slackware the package can be installed with slackpkg or slapt-get. In Debian or Ubuntu with apt-get. The package has a couple of clients but the best one in my opinion is bittorrent-curses. Once installed all you have to do to start downloading is the following:


Many advanced options for the client are available check them out:

Usage: bittorrent-curses [OPTIONS] [TORRENTFILE]

arguments are –
–ip <arg>
ip to report to the tracker (has no effect unless you are on the same
local network as the tracker) (defaults to ”)

–forwarded_port <arg>
world-visible port number if it’s different from the one the client
listens on locally (defaults to 0)

–minport <arg>
minimum port to listen on, counts up if unavailable (defaults to

–maxport <arg>
maximum port to listen on (defaults to 6999)

–bind <arg>
ip to bind to locally (defaults to ”)

–display_interval <arg>
seconds between updates of displayed information (defaults to 0.5)

–rerequest_interval <arg>
minutes to wait between requesting more peers (defaults to 300)

–min_peers <arg>
minimum number of peers to not do rerequesting (defaults to 20)

–max_initiate <arg>
number of peers at which to stop initiating new connections (defaults
to 60)

–max_incomplete <arg>
max number of outgoing incomplete connections (defaults to 100)

–max_allow_in <arg>
maximum number of connections to allow, after this new incoming
connections will be immediately closed (defaults to 80)

–check_hashes, –no_check_hashes
whether to check hashes on disk (defaults to True)

–max_upload_rate <arg>
maximum kB/s to upload at, 0 means no limit (defaults to 20)

–min_uploads <arg>
the number of uploads to fill out to with extra optimistic unchokes
(defaults to 2)

–max_files_open <arg>
the maximum number of files in a multifile torrent to keep open at a
time, 0 means no limit. Used to avoid running out of file
descriptors. (defaults to 50)

–start_trackerless_client, –no_start_trackerless_client
Initialize a trackerless client. This must be enabled in order to
download trackerless torrents. (defaults to True)

–upnp, –no_upnp
Enable automatic port mapping (UPnP) (defaults to True)

–save_as <arg>
file name (for single-file torrents) or directory name (for batch
torrents) to save the torrent as, overriding the default name in the
torrent. See also –save_in (defaults to ”)

–max_uploads <arg>
the maximum number of uploads to allow at once. -1 means a
(hopefully) reasonable number based on –max_upload_rate. The
automatic values are only sensible when running one torrent at a
time. (defaults to -1)

–save_in <arg>
local directory where the torrent contents will be saved. The file
(single-file torrents) or directory (batch torrents) will be created
under this directory using the default name specified in the .torrent
file. See also –save_as. (defaults to ”)

–responsefile <arg>
deprecated, do not use (defaults to ”)

–url <arg>
deprecated, do not use (defaults to ”)

–ask_for_save <arg>
whether or not to ask for a location to save downloaded files in
(defaults to 0)

–spew, –no_spew
whether to display diagnostic info to stdout (defaults to False)

–data_dir <arg>
directory under which variable data such as fastresume information
and GUI state is saved. Defaults to subdirectory ‘data’ of the
bittorrent config directory. (defaults to ”)

–filesystem_encoding <arg>
character encoding used on the local filesystem. If left empty,
autodetected. Autodetection doesn’t work under python versions older
than 2.3 (defaults to ”)

–language <arg>
ISO Language code to use: af, bg, ca, cs, da, de, el, en, es, es_MX,
fr, he, hu, is, it, ja, ko, nb_NO, nl, pl, pt, pt_BR, ro, ru, sk, sl,
sv, tr, vi, zh_CN, zh_TW (defaults to ”)

–keepalive_interval <arg>
number of seconds to pause between sending keepalives (defaults to

–download_slice_size <arg>
how many bytes to query for per request. (defaults to 16384)

–max_message_length <arg>
maximum length prefix encoding you’ll accept over the wire – larger
values get the connection dropped. (defaults to 8388608)

–socket_timeout <arg>
seconds to wait between closing sockets which nothing has been
received on (defaults to 300.0)

–timeout_check_interval <arg>
seconds to wait between checking if any connections have timed out
(defaults to 60.0)

–max_slice_length <arg>
maximum length slice to send to peers, close connection if a larger
request is received (defaults to 16384)

–max_rate_period <arg>
maximum time interval over which to estimate the current upload and
download rates (defaults to 20.0)

–max_rate_period_seedtime <arg>
maximum time interval over which to estimate the current seed rate
(defaults to 100.0)

–max_announce_retry_interval <arg>
maximum time to wait between retrying announces if they keep failing
(defaults to 1800)

–snub_time <arg>
seconds to wait for data to come in over a connection before assuming
it’s semi-permanently choked (defaults to 30.0)

–rarest_first_cutoff <arg>
number of downloads at which to switch from random to rarest first
(defaults to 4)

–upload_unit_size <arg>
how many bytes to write into network buffers at once. (defaults to

–retaliate_to_garbled_data, –no_retaliate_to_garbled_data
refuse further connections from addresses with broken or
intentionally hostile peers that send incorrect data (defaults to

–one_connection_per_ip, –no_one_connection_per_ip
do not connect to several peers that have the same IP address
(defaults to True)

–peer_socket_tos <arg>
if nonzero, set the TOS option for peer connections to this value
(defaults to 8)

–bad_libc_workaround, –no_bad_libc_workaround
enable workaround for a bug in BSD libc that makes file reads very
slow. (defaults to False)

–tracker_proxy <arg>
address of HTTP proxy to use for tracker connections (defaults to ”)

–close_with_rst <arg>
close connections with RST and avoid the TCP TIME_WAIT state
(defaults to 0)

–twisted <arg>
Use Twisted network libraries for network connections. 1 means use
twisted, 0 means do not use twisted, -1 means autodetect, and prefer
twisted (defaults to -1)

Secure VNC By Tunneling with SSH.

Filed under: General Linux,Quick Linux Tutorials — at 10:09 pm on Saturday, October 13, 2007

Remote administration is either a luxury of necessity when it comes to computing. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say they would like to be able to remotely access their files or us their computers. Luckily for Linux users this is an easy task.
VNC (Short for Virtual Network Computing) is used to open up a window of a remote desktop. It was created by Olivetti & Oracle Research Lab and acquired by AT&T, now there are many different flavors of VNC servers and clients available. I recommend the use of TightVNC and x11vnc.

VNC is not a secure protocol by default, passwords and data are transmitted in clear text and can be sniffed by any malicious user. To resolve this problem I introduce SSH Tunneling. As we all know SSH is a secure remote shell and with this we can tunnel ports to create a secure connection.

Server Setup
The First step is to have a VNC server running on the box. I like to use x11vnc as it uses the current X session if its available. After x11vnc is installed make sure that X and x11vnc are running.

Client Setup
On the client a VNC Client is needed any client will do but I recommend using TightVNC or RealVNC.

Commence the tunneling
Once the server and client are set up a SSH connection will have to be set up with local to remote port forwarding. The syntax for this command is:

ssh [-R [bind_address:]port:host:hostport] [user@]hostname

To setup a connection from my laptop to The Linux Blog:

owen@linux-blog-lappy:~$ ssh -R 5999:192.168.1.x:5900

The “-R port:host:hostport” Portion of the command is the part that sets up the port forwarding. In my above example its telling the SSH client to forward localport 5999 to port 5900 on 192.168.1.x (my laptops IP). Once your SSH connection has been made the VNC Client on your local Linux box can be started.
Each client is different but with TightVNC from your run prompt or terminal you can just type:

vncviewer localhost::5999

This will open up the VNC client on your local machine, connect to your local port that you set up in the SSH connection and tunnel all information through the secure connection.

Voilla! There you have it, you can now use SSH and VNC in unity to achieve secure VNC communications. Neat!

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