Category Archives: Linux

My Favorite Yum Plugin

Yum – The YellowDog Updater Modifier is one of the best tools in Fedora Linux. Yum is a command line tool that allows the user to add or remove packages (programs) from the linux os installation. Yum has some great plugin-ins. My two favorites are:

  • Presto
  • Fastest Mirror

Presto will try to download only the updated portion of the program and save time. Fastest Mirror will speed up your downloads by finding the fastest source near you.

To install these options, log in as root, then type:

#yum install yum-plugin-fastestmirror

#yum install yum presto

Ubuntu 11 and Skype

When I upgraded to Ubuntu 11 on my Dell Optiplex 755, I noticed that skype would not work. I use skype quite a bit so I needed to find a solution. I have a Microsoft Lifecam vx700. This is a usb camera and microphone combo. No matter how I tried the camera would not work with skype. Here is my solution gleaned from dozens of other sites. I take no credit for the solution below, I merely brought it all together into one post from bits a peices I found in different posts on the skype and unbuntu forums. One note, I use Ubuntu in classic mode so my directions reflect that gui mode.

Step 1. Open terminal (Gnome Menu-> Accessories->terminal) and use gedit to create a shell script in usr/bin. On the command line copy and paste the following: (minus the pound sign #)

#gksudo gedit /usr/bin/

You will be prompted for your user password. Once the text editor opens, copy and paste the lines below into the editor:

 LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/ skype 


Save the file and close gedit.

I’ve seen similar solutions that suggest renaming the actualy skype binary to skype.real and then name the shell file skype. I don’t reccomend that solution as future updates from the update manager will overwite your script. This way even if the update manager upgrades your skype install this will continue to work.


Step 2. Set permissions on the script file. In terminal chmod the file:

# sudo chmod 755 /usr/bin/

Step 3. Modify the skype config.xml

This file is located in your home directory in a hidden directory called .Skype. You can get there a couple of ways. For those a little less comfortable with the command line, you can use the Places Menu and open your Home folder. This will open the Nautilus file manager. From the file manager menu select View->Show Hidden Files. Now you will see lots of folders and files that start with a dot. Look for the .Skype folder and doulbe click to open it. Inside that folder will be another folder with the same name as your user name. Open that folder and inside you will see a file called config.xml. Right click on that file and select “Open with Text Editor” from the menu. At the bottom of the file just above the closing </config> tag paste the following lines:


Save the file and close gedit.

Step 4. Modiy the launcher.

We need to change the launcher command to make it use the new script file we created in the /usr/bin folder. To modify it, right click on your gnome menu and select edit menus from the list. The Menu Editor program will open and you can click on the Internet icon in the left panel. The right panel will then show all the items in your internet menu. click on the Skype Icon and then select properties. This will open the launcher properties window. Change the command line to the following:


Click close for the launcher and close for the menu editor. Done! You should now be able to use skype with your camera. Hope this helps you!

Upgrading to Fedora 12 Via USB

I recently upgraded my Fedora 11 box to Fedora 12.  No big deal, download the ISO and burn a CD, reboot and upgrade.  Well then I read a cool article on upgrading from a usb drive.  I thought I would give it a try.  I was not disappointed.

I simply followed the directions over at: Live-USB-Creator and turned my 2GB USB flash drive into a portable Fedora Install Device.

I am recreating the process on my FC-12 box so if you are using FC 11 your package numbers will be slightly different. Following the instructions, I opened terminal, my favorite console window tool, and swithed user to root the typed the apporopriate install command:

# yum install liveusb-creator

On my computer it needed a couple of additonal dependencies. I pressed Y and let it finish the install I then went to the Menu–>System Tools–>LiveUSB-Creator and authenticated as root, the screen popped up.



The process from here was easy I selected the distribution I wanted and let it do it’s thing.  A few mimutes later I had a bootable thumb drive with FC 12 on it ready to go.  I have heard that some people have issues with the download of the image.  The tool does provide an option to select an ISO image from your local drive to install.


Overall this is a great tool.  I reccomend it.



Upgraded to Ububtu 9.10 two ways

I just spent some time installing and working with Ubuntu 9.10  I tried the installation two different ways on separate machines. The first attempt was an upgrade from 9.04 on my IBM A31 laptop. I have the IBM docking station and I did the upgrade with the computer docked. That helps to make sure the right drivers are installed. I got the notification of upgrade on screen and clicked through and let the upgrade do its thing. I really appreciate the stability of this upgrade process.  I forgot about it and when I came back a day later it was still waiting for me to finish the install. Usually when you walk away from an install it locks up and you have to start over.  Not this time.  The upgrade finished perfectly and I was pleased with the new look on my laptop.  The entire process took a little over an hour to perform the whole upgrade minus my forgetfulness. One part I really liked is even my Broadcom wireless card was detected and fwcutter properly installed the wireless drivers. One part that still does not work is the two USB ports on the dock.  It will not recognize them and I can’t figure out how to get them to work.  For now I have a little USB hub plugged into the top port on the back of the laptop and that will suffice for my thumb drive.


The second method I tried was a complete wipe and reload of an Ubuntu 8.0 box.  This is a generic PIII 850 mhz machine with 512mb ofriva-tnt2ram and a Riva tnt2 video card in the AGP slot. I call this my legacy box.  It gives most Linux distributions fits and they fail to install or at least the video installs wrong.  I will again share that I was impressed with the installer.  I booted from a cd I created from the downloaded image and the install process went off almost without a hitch.  I did have to swap out the old 52x cdrom drive as it would not read the cd.  That was a hardware issue not Ubuntu’s fault.  The box performs well with a default installation and loads applications surprisingly fast.  I want to take a moment to expand on the speed; performance is above average.  I am able to load applications quickly enough that I do not get impatient. No it is not as fast as my quad dual processor screaming whizz bang development pc but for a PIII it is snappy.


One feature I really like is the Ubuntu Software Center.  This is a great tool and an example of the focus Ubuntu places on the end user experience.



Here the tool provides a clean GUI that allows the novice user to find and install the applications they need.  What I really like is that the apps are arranged by what they provide and can do for the user.  The novice is not going to know the name of the application nor do they really care, they want to know that the personal finance tool is going to let them keep track of their personal finances and checkbook register.  That is the right way to organize the applications.


Kudos to you Ubuntu team.  This is a slick distro.


Distro leapfrog

As an avid, some would say rabid, Linux user and all around open source advocate, I  like to try out new distributions and see what is new.  I just recently upgraded my Fedora and Ubuntu computers.  I use Fedora 11 on my development box.  I find Fedora has the edge when it comes to balancing the needs of an experienced Linux user who wants command line and GUI. Ubuntu has the advantage with the new user.

I just recently upgraded my laptop that I use for Linux training to Ubuntu 9.10. This old IBM A31 is a rugged workhorse and is perfect for traveling and presenting.  I also use Yugma and Skype on it to teach remote classes. I’m doing my part to save the environment and drive less and hold on-line training.

For some reason people often give me old computer hardware. I guess it has something to do with my socks and sandals approach to life, but I’m not sure.  I do my best to get this hardware into the hands of people that could really benefit from it.  Any computer I give away I wipe clean and install Ubuntu as it has the best configuration for the beginner.  Besides running really well on minimal hardware, their attention to detail for the new user puts them way ahead of anybody else.

Because I’m always looking at the latest Linux advancements, I’ve noticed an interesting trend.  Fedora and Ubuntu are playing feature and refinement leapfrog.  My qualitative findings are based on my experience of upgrading and installing each new iteration of Ubuntu and Fedora and using them.  Fedora 10 was ahead of Ubuntu 8.  Ubuntu 9.04 beat out Fedora 10. My recent upgrade to Fedora 11 exceeded the Ubuntu 9.04 version.  Now Ubuntu 9.10 has a slight edge over Fedora 11.  Looking at the release notes for Fedora 12 I think they will exceed Ubuntu.

This is a good thing  The winner in the game of feature leapfrog is the end user.  With each iteration, the spiral upward towards ease of use and user acceptance gets tighter and tighter.  I predict that future feature sets for both open source and propietary operating systems will start to use Fedora and Ubuntu as the standard by which successful inteface design is measured.



Converting VB and VB script apps to php

I recently tried a conversion of an old asp website to php. The process went pretty well using the asp2php converter located at

The problems cropped up in the custom ADODB connection. That really doesn’t work. But no biggie I was able to complete the conversion with not too much effort.

Now here is where it got fun. I started thinking about if I could convert a VB application to php. I’ve written hundreds of VB applications all the way from vb 2.0 to 6.0 (yeah I’m that old) and I know php well enough to convert the application. The process would be much the same. I have an old vb 6 application I am going to convert into a php web app. This should be fun. I will let you know the results soon!


Evolution and Google Calendar

Evolution now has a Google calendar provider.  This means that I can see my google calendar and add/edit/delete events through Evolution.  This is a great feature and really easy to set up.

Go to File->New->Calendar and the New Calendar dialog will open.


Select Google from the Type dropdown.  Enter your google username and password.  The default refresh is 30 minutes.  I changed it to 15 minutes becuse I use my calendar for many events.  Using SSL if you travel and are often on unsecured wireless systems.

A little tip* enter your username and password before you attempt to pick which Google calendar you are going to use, especially if you are not going using your default calendar.

The color option is for the color of the items as they appear on your calendar.  This is handy if you have multiple calendars and want to distinguish the items.  I clicked the “Mark as default calendar” option so that any new appointments are by default added to the google calendar.

Using HTML tidy with gedit

My tool of choice for editing many kinds of files including HTML is gedit.  It is a clean and easy to use tool.  I often have to work with old html websites.  The HTML is often quite a mess with missing closing tags or just plain poorly written.  I’ve also used this to fix code I was attempting to insert into site editors using the XHTML standard.


Gedit has many plug-ins.  One of my favorites is HTML-Tidy.  This is a link to the author’s site.  Take a look and see if it helps your coding.

Upgraded to Fedora Core 11

Yesterday I upgraded my workstation, a Dell Optiplex 755, to Fedora Core 11. I downloaded the net install CD iso and burned it to disk. The installation was super easy. I am a big fan of and I use his install guide.

What Worked

The part that pleased me much was that the dual screen problems seem to be sorted out. I have two Dell 17 inch LCD monitors running on an ATI card at 1280X1024. Using the Gnome Display Preferences app I was able to configure my dual screen system in a few second.



Quite pretty out of the box. Here is a screen shot: Click the thumb to see a bigger version.



What Didn’t Work

*Evolution Exchange MAPI – The new project to get evolution to sync better with Exchange servers. I was hopeful but alas I get an error. Maybe in time.


*Monodevelop for VB.NET

When installing Monodevelop, if you want to compile projects you will need several packages:

# yum list mono*

Installed Packages














You must include mono-basic to get the vbnc compiler. This package is not a dependency of monodevelop.

Evolution Exchange


I spent the day trying to no avail to get Evolution to talk to the company exchange server. It seems the new OWA light is not compatible. There is a project right now for FC 11 that will use the new Evolution MAPI connector. I am so hopeful that it all works!