Monthly Archives: December 2010

My 2011 Linux Resolutions

2010 is shot in the arse. 2011 is right around the corner. Here’s what I resolve to do Linux-wise for the new year:

  • I want to try to continue to give back to the Linux community the knowledge and insights that I have garnered while interacting within that community for the past 4+ years.

Linux should be all about community. While there are many friendly MS Windows and Apple/Mac support forums and communities, it’s doubly important for Open Source and GNU/Linux to remember that much of its success and evolution is driven by its faithful community. We should all resolve to be more helpful in 2011; and not just regarding Linux.

  • I want to learn to use the grep command more efficiently.

Grep is a command line tool that can be used to find lines in a file using regular expressions. I confess that most of the time when I use the grep command it’s because I’m copying someone else’s recommended command into my terminal. I want to learn more about how the command works and where best to use it.

  • I want to learn a bit about shell scripting, particularly BASH shell scripting.

Shell scripts are little programs that can be written to perform a series of commands within the shell. They can be quite useful. I’m interested in learning the basics of BASH shell scripting.

  • I want to install and experiment with at least one distribution that I’ve never installed before.

I’m thinking of maybe Frugalware. We’ll see.

  • Lastly, I would like to consider attaining a Linux IT certification of some sort.

This may be a bit much to chew, but I can dream, can’t I? HERE is a Wikipedia article about the Linux Professional Institute certifications.

That about covers my Linux resolutions for 2011. I have them here in print to remind me from time to time how I’m progressing.



Image credits: pre-altered reader courtesy of

Further reading:

How to Use the Grep Command In Linux/Unix

Linux certification is gaining appeal among administrators

Linux Professional Institute (Certifications)

Russia to Use Linux Operating System

You know, I would think the Russians would have gone this route a long while back. I wonder what’s taken them so long.

I received my SlashDot email newsletter this morning which alerted me to this blog post regarding a Russian news story claiming that Vlad “Manly Man” Putin, that stud muffin of Russian politics, is ordering the mother land to make the switch to the Linux operating system. Now, is that cool or what? Go for it, comrades!

I’ll sleep better at night knowing the Russian nuclear arsenal isn’t being monitored/controlled using MS Windows. The thought of that gives all new meaning to “blue screen of death”, huh? At least with Linux, we can be assured that nuclear holocaust will be caused by a human error and not a “patch Tuesday” error.

Hmm… I wonder what distribution they’ll be running? Maybe REDhat? Better dead than MS* HA! I kill me.



*Just kidding. I use and have liked Microsoft products for years. I just don’t use them that much anymore. :wink

Christmas How-To Using the Command Line

Here’s another helpful command line Linux how-to for you folks out there in Linuxland:

Christmas How-To

  • you_linux~:$ su

Password: ***************

  • you_linux~:# locate Christmas

locate: warning: database /var/lib/slocate/slocate.db’ is more than 8 days old

  • you_linux~:# locate update


  • you_linux~:# locate Christmas




  • you_linux~:# make Christmas && make happy && make peace

Christmas successfully created from /home/you/heart/Christmas/source

  • CTRL+D
  • you_linux~:$ ./ Christmas

Have a wonderful Holiday Season, folks!



Image credits: Santa and sleigh courtesy of

Notification Area – The Tray Manager Lost Selection

Have you ever booted up your Xfce4 Linux system and seen that error notice?

Well, if you have, you’re not the only one out there. Ever wonder what causes that annoying bugaboo? Me too. I’ve narrowed it down to the point where I think it’s caused by a couple of theme packages I have installed. I can’t definitively reproduce the effect, though.

When this notice comes up on your system, if you’ll check the Xfce4 Task Manager (or top @ the command line),  you’ll find that you have two instances of xfce4-panel running. Open your Xfce4 Session Manager and under the Sessions tab, you’ll see it there also. Delete one instance if xfce4-panel in your Session Manager, then Save (see Figure 1).

That’s it. Once you reboot, you shouldn’t see that annoying Notification Area error message again.

Figure 1

As stated above, if you do see two instances of the xfce4-panel, just click on one of them with your mouse to highlight, then click on Quit Program at the lower right. After you’ve done that, click on Save Session on the lower left side.

I hope someone finds this info useful.



Our Very Own Babel Fish and How It Made the Internet Possible

In Douglas Adams’ classic science fiction series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, there was a small animal called a babel fish that when inserted in one’s ear would translate languages into the user’s language.

We actually have such a thing in reality. It’s called TCP/IP, and it’s what allows you and I to interact today through countless computers, hubs, switches, routers, and servers to our monitor. Back in the dawning age of the Internet, when the U.S. Dept. of Defense was first playing around with it in the 1960s, they found that different computers manufactured by different companies and bought by the U.S. could not communicate with one another directly on a network. They didn’t speak the same language, you see.

The solution to this became what we now know as TCP/IP, which stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. Were it not for this simple solution, you and I would be sending letters written with ink on paper back and forth to one another right now, instead of using this instantaneous method of communication that we’ve all come to love and sometimes hate. Of course, the United States Postal Service would love it to still be that way. HA! Fortunately for us, some really smart folks at the U.S. Dept. of Defense came up with TCP/IP.

How TCP/IP basically works:

As with all other communications protocol, TCP/IP is composed of layers:

  • IP – is responsible for moving packet of data from node to node. IP forwards each packet based on a four byte destination address (the IP number). The Internet authorities assign ranges of numbers to different organizations. The organizations assign groups of their numbers to departments. IP operates on gateway machines that move data from department to organization to region and then around the world.
  • TCP – is responsible for verifying the correct delivery of data from client to server. Data can be lost in the intermediate network. TCP adds support to detect errors or lost data and to trigger retransmission until the data is correctly and completely received.
  • Sockets – is a name given to the package of subroutines that provide access to TCP/IP on most systems.*

Here’s a little byte of the history of TCP/IP:

The Internet Protocol Suite resulted from research and development conducted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the early 1970s. After initiating the pioneering ARPANET in 1969, DARPA started work on a number of other data transmission technologies. In 1972, Robert E. Kahn joined the DARPA Information Processing Technology Office, where he worked on both satellite packet networks and ground-based radio packet networks, and recognized the value of being able to communicate across both. In the spring of 1973, Vinton Cerf, the developer of the existing ARPANET Network Control Program (NCP) protocol, joined Kahn to work on open-architecture interconnection models with the goal of designing the next protocol generation for the ARPANET.^

It can be fascinating to read a bit about how technologies were created and evolved. I don’t believe anyone from the 1960s,even with their wildest imaginations, could have dreamed that their tinkering with this and that would create what we now know as the Internet and the World Wide Web. It’s absolutely amazing, actually. Can you imagine what it’ll be like 50 years from now? Some of you younger folks will get to see it.

Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law of Prediction: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Learn something new. It won’t hurt you. I promise.



* Source: Yale University – Introduction to TCP/IP

^Source: Wikipedia – Internet Protocol Suite

–> If you learned something worthwhile at Wikipedia today, please help out a bit. Thanks!

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Yahoo On the Slippery Slope?

When I first came online back in 2000, Yahoo was one of the first sites that I utilized. It’s kinda’ sad to see it struggling.

One of my first email accounts was with Yahoo. I still use it every day, actually. It was the first search engine that I used regularly. It was also the first home page that I used until I learned to make my own custom home pages. Yahoo Groups was where I started one of my first online communities. I still visit a couple there nowadays. I have a lot of good memories about Yahoo.

From the Washington Post:

Yahoo to close more services after 600 layoffs


The Associated Press
Thursday, December 16, 2010; 6:43 PM

SAN FRANCISCO — The content-sharing site Delicious may not be on Yahoo Inc.‘s shrinking menu of online services much longer.

Although a final decision evidently hasn’t been made, Delicious is on a list of services that Yahoo is planning to close after shedding 600 employees, or about 4 percent of its work force, earlier this week.

I don’t use Delicious, but I know quite a few folks who do. I understand that a few more services like Yahoo-Buzz, Yahoo Bookmarks, etc. may also be shutting down.

More from the above article:

In a statement, Yahoo confirmed it will phase out several services in the coming months without specifically mentioning Delicious. The company, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., said it would provide more details “when appropriate.”

Other services on Yahoo’s “sunset” list include MyBlogLog, Yahoo Buzz, Yahoo Picks and Yahoo Bookmarks.

I hope Yahoo can pull themselves up by the bootstraps and continue to compete in the online world. I’d hate to see Google become a Microsoft-like monopoly. They are well on their way to that already. Wish I owned a LOT of Google stock, actually. Also, I hope that the 600 souls who find themselves without any income just before Christmas manage to get their lives back on track as quickly as possible.



Sources: Washington Post email alert

Image credit: MyYahoo® logo owned by Yahoo, Inc.

Five Christmas Wishes for You

I’ve already told Santa what I want for Christmas. This list is five things that I want for you for Christmas.

  1. I wish for you to have good health. Why? Because, believe it or not, without good health it’s difficult to find much joy in anything.
  2. I wish for you to have financial security. Notice I didn’t wish you wealth. That’s up to you. However, if you have a secure means of acquiring wealth over time, you should be able to live a comfortable life. Don’t be greedy.
  3. I wish for you the ability to love your fellow humans. Be kind when you can; walk away when you can’t. If you don’t have something good to say about someone, just don’t say anything at all.
  4. I wish for you happiness, but not at the expense of others.
  5. I wish for you the wisdom to appreciate all the things you have.

Christmas is just around the corner, as my dad used to say to me when I was a little boy. You can almost hear the sleigh bells. This is a special season for everyone, regardless of their beliefs. I’m an atheist, yet I can partake of the joy of this season as well as any Christian. It’s all about love, kindness, and having that child’s hope for a better tomorrow.

Have a wonderful, warm, and safe Holiday Season, folks!



Image credit: santa & reindeer courtesy of

Update This!

It seems that I spend my life updating, upgrading, or patching stuff these days? Ever feel that way?

I never used to have to update my coffee pot or my old AM radio. It’s such a pain in the posterior area to have to update everything from my sprinkler timer to my closet mainframe. I even have to update stuff online… my software for my boards, blogs, websites, etc. Man! It seems every day I have to update something. How did it get like this?

Was it all those Patch Tuesdays that Microsoft started? Nah… we were updating stuff before MS came along. They just perfected the process. And on that note, did you ever have an update/upgrade/patch that went off without a hitch? I had a few. However, I’ve also had my share of catastrophic failures thanks to updates or patches.

As a matter of fact, there was one particular patch BOOM! that resulted in me giving up on MS Windows a few years ago. I went to GNU/Linux 100% of the time. The patch that broke the camel’s back, so to speak, was the fourth catastrophic patch failure I’d had on XP in three years. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I can’t say that Linux has behaved totally angelically either. But… But… with Linux, it’s usually mea culpa, not the damned update or patch.

I just recently got a notification that my phpBB3 software on one of my boards needs updating. Well, I’ve yet to run a phpBB3 update that did not cause me massive hair loss and gnashing of teeth. This one was no exception. “ERROR – line bla-bla of database file corrupt.” *sigh* Why bother? Is it worth all the trouble?

Unfortunately, it is worth all the trouble. Why? It’s mostly for security reasons. We patch and update because some arse 5000 miles away has found a new exploit on an otherwise perfectly running piece of software. Sadly, every time the developers release another perfectly running piece of software, the same (or another) rectal orifice will be busily working at screwing up the new version.

Times were a lot simpler before my coffee pot came with Internet access and Skype capabilities. Jeeez, man! I only wanted a cup of joe, you know.



Image credit: enamel coffee pot ©2010 GSI Outdoors

Today’s Featured Linux Website

There’s a site that I’ve been visiting for quite a few years. It’s filled with interesting blogs, tutorials, and links to other sites with great Linux related info.

It’s called srlinuxx keeps things organized and running smoothly over there. Sure, there are bunches of great Linux sites online these days, but this one is pretty cool. It’s a one stop shopping experience. You can learn a lot in just one visit. Check out the forums, read a few member blogs, learn how to do something from a tutorial. It’s all there. Oh, and don’t forget to create an account. It’s good to belong.

Here’s are some latest news blurbs from

Oh, and don’t forget to vote for your favorite Linux distribution. I just finished whining about Slackware and Debian not being on the list.

Take it from me, folks, it’s a great site and another wonderful Linux resource that you can stick in your Bookmarks. Stop by and read there often. It won’t hurt you to learn a thing or two. Oh, and if you do feel that was helpful to you in any way, don’t hesitate to maybe slip a buck or two into their tip jar. Nowadays, every little bit helps and is appreciated.

That’s it for today, folks. Stay warm!



Image credits: toothy emoticon courtesy of Drienerlo football club at University of Twente  – Enschede, Netherlands

An Upgrade for SLAX Goes Awry

Recently, I tried to upgrade to the newest version of SLAX for use on my Thumb Drive Toolbox. However, the best laid plans

I used my normal method for installing SLAX on a thumb drive. It’s not rocket science. You just use parted to remove the old partition and create a new one, then you load the SLAX directories from the downloaded .tar archive. You run and you’re all done. Well, that method didn’t seem to want to work this time around, so I had to find a work-around. Here’s how I did it:

  • Download the .iso SLAX instead of the .tar archive
  • After checking your download integrity using md5sum, burn the .iso to a CD
  • Reboot your system with the CD – run SLAX from RAM (if you have at least 2Gig)
  • Mount your previously prepared thumb drive (FAT16)
  • Mount the SLAX CD
  • Copy the /boot and /slax directories from the CD directly onto the thumb drive
  • Navigate to the thumb drive /boot directory
  • Make the executable: # chmod +x
  • Execute # ./
  • Follow the directions to install the bootloader
  • Reboot

That’s it. Your SLAX thumb drive should be bootable now.

Have FUN!