Remote-controling Linux from any mobile device

Remote ControlsRemote-controlling desktop computers from mobile devices is an idea that is typically implemented in the form of an Android/Iphone app that connects to the controlled computer over SSH, VNC, RDP or some proprietary protocol typically requiring a closed-source server component.

It had occurred to me a while ago that it shouldn’t be too difficult to write a webapp that would turn any mobile device with a web browser into a remote control for the server its running on, and I was wondering why I didn’t see any implementations of that idea around.

Well now there is one such implementation in the form of “Linux Remote Control“.

Continue reading

Running Fedora’s liveusb-creator on Ubuntu

One of the things I find most annoying about Linux distributions is that when it comes to distribution-oriented tools, they tend to make other distributions feel like second-class citizens even when compared to Windows. One such example is the Ubuntu One service which had a Windows client released recently and will soon see a Mac client while it is yet to be unsupported on any other distro besides Ubuntu. Another such, albeit smaller, example is the Fedora liveusb-creator tool.

The Fedora liveusb-creator tool is used when one wants to install Fedora while using a USB stick rather then a CD-ROM. While Ubuntu does include a comparable tool called “Startup Disk Creator”, that tool only supports creation of bootable USB sticks for Debian-derivative distributions.

Installation of the  liveusb-creator tool is of course extremely easy on Fedora where it is accessible directly from the distribution’s repositories, the tool’s website also provides a Windows installer, but when it comes to other distributions the site resorts to providing a source archive without even including instructions as to what packages might be needed to run it.

Fortunately for users of other distributions, the Fedora liveusb-creator tool is written in Python, therefore running it on other distributions is a rather simple task, following are 3 simple steps required to use the liveusb-creator on Ubuntu, similar steps may apply to other Debian-derived distributions as well.

Continue reading

Syncany, one tool to sync them all

Syncany is n interesting project, its goal is to create a client for cloud-storage service, similar to what DropBox or Ubunto One provide. The interesting aspect is that it doesn’t  come bundled with is own storage service, instead it provides plugins to connect to various different services.

If Syncany succeeds, it has the potential to level the playing field between the various storage providers and put the power to select them back in the hand of users.

But the possibilities don’t end there, suppose for example, Syncany includes a plugin to multiplex your data between more then one storage provider? Or maybe aggregate the space they provide?

Fixing the Nautilus garbage bin again

Usability bugs are nasty, they tend to be a major point of frustration for novice users, yet their importance is sometimes hard to explain to developers.

An even worse situation occurs when such bugs, once worked around, come back to bite you in a later software release because of a lack of developer foresight.

I am going to discuss a work around for a bug I’ve already discussed in the past. I’m going to skip going into the details of how this bug arises, please read the previous post for those.

Continue reading

Sound problems on Ubuntu Hardy Heron

Well, I wanted to describe some of the relatively minor sound problems I’ve encountered after upgrading to Hardy, while giving some kind of an overview of how things are with audio and Linux and why are we seeing problems with this release, but this article does a much better job at it then I could.

Very briefly, the solution for my audio problems was to set all the options to “PulseAudio Sound Server” in the “Sound Preferences” administration applet, and install the “libflashsupport” package.

Update: Another class of applications that is affected by the switch to PulseAudio is those appications that use the SDL library. Thos can be configured to use PulseAudio exclusively by installing the “libsdl1.2debian-pulseaudio” package and making sure no other “libsdl1.2debian-*” package is installed.

Ubuntu 8.04 “Hardy Heron” upgrade notes

As experienced computer users know, the fresh-released versions of products are typically not very stable and reliable. It takes a few months (Typically until the x.1 version is released) for the product to really stabilize and become production-ready. This also seems to be true for Free and Open-Source software, though the maturing rate seems to be faster.

Knowing that, I typically wait a couple of months after an Ubuntu release before I take the time to upgrade. When it comes to Hardy Heron, the latest version of Ubuntu, a further reason not to upgrade was provided by the fact that up until now it didn’t include a stable version of Firefox.

I finally decided to take the time and upgrade the Ubuntu version on my personal home computer yesterday. The upgrade didn’t went as smoothly as I hoped it would. Most of the issues can be blamed on the manual tweaks I’ve made to my system. Not all, however.

Below is a list of the issues I’ve encountered during and after the upgrade, and the solutions I came up with (when applicable).

Continue reading

Wuala: True Peer-to-Peer file system

The was a live-journal post linked from linuxtoday today discussing Wuala, which seems to be a network file system which uses Peer-to-Peer technology to pool together the storage of multiple client machines.

This is an idea I’ve been toying with in my head for quite some time now. Ever since the idea of grid-computing became popular, I’ve been waiting for some kind of a grid file system to emerge, one that would allow one to tap into the unused storage resources on the network that typically reside on the local hard-drives of servers and workstations, and avoid having to invest in large expensive central storage systems.

There are several products that claim to be grid file systems, notable examples are lustre and InterMezzo, however, these seem to built around the idea of building a central storage out of a large number of dedicated machines rather then having the storage distributed across all the machines in the network.

Wuala is an interesting piece of software, and if to judge by the screen shots in the live-journal post, its available fur Ubuntu, I’ll be trying it out soon, on the very least, this could be a nice backup solution.

Terminator: Nice tool – huge potential

I’m quite pleased and impressed with Terminator, a tool to allow splitting a single window into multiple terminal windows.

I’m pleased with the existence of Terminator for a few reasons, the first of which is that it almost fits the bill of something I’ve been looking for for a while. In my day-to-day work I often find myself having to monitor a system by tailing a few log files at once. The way I’ve achieved this so far was by writing a script to open up multiple GNOME Terminal windows, each tailing a different log file, and position them around the desktop using the “–geometry” parameter, however, the whole construct, being built out of several unrelated windows is difficult to move around the desktop, minimize, and takes way too much space in the task bar.

Another reason for me to be pleased with Terminator is the fact that it is implemented with Python, this gives me the hope that while currently Terminator lacks a few features I need in order to use if for my purpose, I may be able to add those features in a timely manner.

Continue reading

Fixing Thumbnails in Nautilus

Where the h@$#$ are my thumbnails?If you are like me and many other internet users, you’ve probably downloaded movies with one P2P program or another.

If you did that downloading while using Nautilus and Gnome, you might have noticed that Nautilus fails to produce Thumbnails for downloaded movies, presenting the film-roll Icon instead.

What happens here, is that Nautilus attempts to generate thumbnails for files as soon as you enter the directory that contains them, when it comes to files that are only halfway-downloaded it fails for obvious reasons.

The problem is that when Nautilus fails to generate a thumbnail, that failure is noted down somewhere, and therefore Nautilus does not attempt to regenerate the thumbnail once the file is fully downloaded.

Continue reading