Thursday, 27 October 2011

A New Computer -- Backups

I'd love to find a new backup solution, but the reality is I have Bacula working reasonably consistently right now, and it's the easiest thing to get set up quickly. So I:
  1. Installed bacula-client and bacula-traymonitor packages (sudo apt-get install bacula-client bacula-traymonitor)
  2. Copied /etc/bacula/bacula-fd.conf and /etc/bacula/tray-monitor.conf from the old laptop
  3. Changed the host name in both the above files
  4. Added my new laptop to /etc/bacula/bacula-dir.conf on the bacula director host by copying the job definition of the old laptop and renaming it

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

New Computer -- Fixing the Too-Sensitive Touchpad

My new laptop had a way-too-sensitive touchpad. So much so that I installed Touchpad Indicator so I could turn it off. Interestingly, I couldn't use its "turn off touchpad when mouse plugged in" feature, because it seemed to always think the mouse was plugged in.

That led me to realize that I also didn't have the touchpad tab in the mouse control panel. Googling, I found that this was a common problem with ALPS touchpads, like the one I had.

The fix is here: An updated driver that allows you to get at the touchpad control in the mouse control panel. Download the .deb file, then double-click it and wait a bit for the Software Centre to run. Click install, enter your password, wait, then restart, and you'll have the touchpad tab in the mouse control panel. On the touchpad tab, you can turn off mouse clicks when typing, and suddenly typing isn't a pain.

I have to resist the urge to rant a bit. I bought an Ubuntu-certified laptop. This is the sort of pissing around fixing that I was hoping to avoid. Sigh!

Friday, 14 October 2011

A New Computer -- Printing

Setting up my multi-function printer on Ubuntu has always been interesting. When I first got my printer, it was so new I had to download and build hplip, the printing subsystem.

It looks like installation is a lot easier now, but to get started you still have to go into a terminal and type:


That starts a GUI that easily discovered my printer on the network. Unfortunately, when I tried to install the driver, it failed with "The download of the digital signature file failed." That sucks. But wait! The server that holds the drivers is actually run by the Linux Foundation, and it was off the air because of the security breach almost a month ago.

Finally, about a week and a half later, hp-setup worked. It now brings up a GUI window and walks you through a few steps: You have to tell it whether you printer is USB, parallel or network-connected. It's not much closer to being, "It just works."

A New Computer -- Touchpad Too Sensitive

The touchpad on the last two laptops I've had have been way too sensitive. There should be a better solution, but for now I'm installing the touchpad indicator:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:atareao/atareao
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install touchpad-indicator

Update: I found that the clicking on the trackpad indicator icon didn't work reliably until I rebooted.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Microsoft Considering Again Buying Yahoo

Microsoft is again considering buying Yahoo. According to one MS executive, the acquisition would allow them to "obliterate AOL." AOL still exists?

As a Yahoo shareholder, I hope MS buys. If I were a MS shareholder, I'd be afraid, very afraid.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

A New Computer -- Installing VirtualBox

I installed VirtualBox from the Ubuntu Software Centre on my new computer. I had already copied over my VM -- it came with all the other files when I copied everything under /home.

When I figured out how to run VirtualBox under Unity (it's under Accessories), it came up and knew about all the VMs I had on the old machine. When I started my Windows VM, it complained that it couldn't find "/usr/share/virtualbox/VBoxGuestAdditions.iso". Sure enough, the iso wasn't anywhere on the new machine.

However, for my purposes I didn't need the iso. I just unloaded the iso from the virtual CD device for the virtual machine, and tried restarting. It worked.

I would need the guest additions iso sometime, so, with the virtual machine running, I went to the Devices-> Install Guest Additions menu. It asked me if I wanted to download the file from the Internet, and I said "yes".

Saturday, 1 October 2011

A New Computer

The backlight died on my Lenovo x300 a couple of weeks ago, so I bought a Dell Vostro with Ubuntu pre-installed. Here's how I got from one to the other:

The Dell website said I was getting Ubuntu 11.04, but out of the box the computer had 10.10 on it. My first try upgrading to 11.04 failed. When it tried to reboot, it said the device for / wasn't ready. Fortunately, I somehow got to the old grub screen that let me choose which image to boot, and at the bottom there was an option to return the box to factory state.

I tried that, and it worked. I had about 10 minutes of the spinning "wait" cursor before it started doing something, but by being patient I got the box back to factory state.

So I went through the process of updating 10.10, reboot, then upgrade to 11.04 again. This time I saved the sudoers file. I was asked whether to keep the old one or use the new one as part of the installation.

I'm going to force myself to use Unity for a while. That's causing me some grief, but I'm already finding so of the tricks that make Unity more productive (try right-clicking the "Applications" or "Files & Folders" icons in the Launcher bar).

To get my old files over from the old computer, I connected a 1 TB USB drive to the old laptop, shut down Evolution, virtual machines, and any other applications that might be updating files while I copied, and did:

sudo cp -a /home /media/wd1tbb/home

I have a lot of software installed on the old machine. I found excellent instructions here about how to move Ubuntu from one machine to another, preserving your environment and installed software as much as possible. The instructions are for when both machines are running exactly the same version of Ubuntu.

I was moving from 10.04 to 11.04, so I didn't meet the criteria. I generated the list of installed packages anyway, and took a look at the list using a text editor. The vast majority of the packages are what I'd call supporting or system packages. So I think I'll skip that step.

But wait. The Ubuntu Software Centre has a better idea of what's an application package. I'll have to look into where it gets its list.

Any, back to copying my file. I did:

sudo cp -aiv /media/wd1tbb/home/reid /home

Then I used judgement to decide whether to overwrite or not.

Argh! For some reason, the new computer has the original user with uid=1001, not uid=1000 like every other Ubuntu I've installed. I had to run commands like this to fix up the files I copied over:

sudo find /home -gid 1000 -uid 1000 -exec chown -h 1001:1001 \{} \;

Then, probably because I've upgraded versions of Evolution, just copying the files across wasn't enough. I had to go back to the old machine and make an Evolution backup, copy it to the new machine, and set up Evolution from the backup. This was made more interesting because the Evolution setup wizard would show the text in each window for only a few seconds, then it would disappear. By fiddling and trying a few times I was able to get Evolution going. (A lot of work considering I may well switch back to Thunderbird soon.)

That's the basics. I think I'll post this now, and add new posts for all the other work I'll have to do (like lower the sensitivity of the touch pad).