If you want a CCTV or closed circuit tv monitoring system for your home or business, you can certainly invest in several dozens of commercial systems. These commercial surveillance systems can be purchased at several stores such as Home Depot, Costco, Frys and in many smaller specialty surveillance stores.

Many of these commercial systems such as Lorex, Q-See and Revo have dozens of features, cameras, setup, etc. These systems typically come with a DVR device which allows you to connect several cctv cameras from 4, 8 to 16 cameras. The DVR is able to record and review events triggered by the system such as motion detect, noise, etc.

One system that is free and open source is ZoneMinder that’s built on a Linux server. It has features comparable to commercial systems. There are also unique features not found anywhere. So, here’s an excerpt from Linuxaria article:

ZoneMinder is a professional surveillance software, recommended if you have multiple cameras to be connected or would like to make a real security service through your linux server.

ZoneMinder is intended for use in single or multi-camera video security applications, including commercial or home CCTV, theft prevention and child, family member or home monitoring and other domestic care scenarios such as nanny cam installations. It supports capture, analysis, recording, and monitoring of video data coming from one or more video or network cameras attached to a Linux system. ZoneMinder also support web and semi-automatic control of Pan/Tilt/Zoom cameras using a variety of protocols. It is suitable for use as a DIY home video security system and for commercial or professional video security and surveillance. It can also be integrated into a home automation system via X.10 or other protocols.

To configure ZoneMinder i suggest that you follow their nice tutorial::

And to have a nice Demo of ZoneMinder check this Video


ZoneMinder is a definitely an option worth checking if you are looking for something that’s open-source and free.

Open Gnome Nautilus As Root

Nautilus is the file manager for the Gnome desktop, the default desktop environment for Ubuntu and countless other distributions. I run a local web server on my desktop with the default webroot located in /var/www.

If I copy files to /var/www or any of its subdirectories, I will need root access. Ever wonder how to open the Nautilus file manager as root?

To open Nautilus as root, open the Terminal from Applications -> Accessories menu.

Type the following command:

gksudo nautilus

Using Nautilus can really speed up and make work easier. You can use common mouse movements such as drag and drop, as well as keyboard shortcuts such as cutting and pasting.

If you want to take another step further, you can add this superuser shortcut to your menubar.

WinFF A Free Video Converter

I spoke highly about FFMPEG in 3 separate occasions. Last night, I downloaded a program called WinFF, a Windows GUI for the command line video converter FFMPEG. The program will convert most any video file that FFmpeg will convert.

WinFF does multiple files in multiple formats at one time. You can for example convert mpeg’s, flv’s, and mov’s, all into avi’s all at once. WinFF is available for Windows 95, 98 , ME, NT, XP, VISTA, and Debian, Ubuntu, Redhat based GNU/Linux distributions.

This reason I was looking for a Windows GUI version of FFMPEG because I wanted to use Windows Movie Maker. I had a video in MPG4 format that was not supported by Windows Movie Maker. I figured I need to convert from MPG4 to WMV format.

So, I ended up downloading WinFF. The program is simple and intuitive. I was able to convert from MPG4 to WMV in no time. WinFF is an awesome program that anyone should have in their arsenal.

WinFF is published under the GNU public license. Download.

Changing Hostnames and Making it Stick

Nothing can be more frustrating in Linux than making hostname changes and learning after a reboot that your changes didn’t stick. Here’s just a few things that I did to make the hostname permanent while working in Ubuntu 10.04. This might work in other Debian-based distributions. Let’s assume the name of your system is ‘desktop.’

Edit your hosts file.

sudo vi /etc/hosts</code>

Add this. You can drop the domain if you don’t plan on using it.  desktop

Edit your hostname file.

sudo vi /etc/hostname</code>

Add your hostname. Domain is optional.

Finally, change your hostname.

sudo hostname desktop

GDM Does Not Start in Ubuntu 10.04

For those of us who are Ubuntu lovers, we’ve come to love and expect the stability of Ubuntu. But, when something as simple as a login screen fails to load, all hell seems to break lose. That’s what happened to me. When I upgraded to Ubuntu 10.04, I noticed the default GDM login screen wasn’t loading properly.

I must say, a few times it did, but it hasn’t in more than two weeks. I’ve been an Ubuntu user since the Ubuntu 5.04 Hoary Hedgehog days. That’s 5 years, but when something like this is happening in Ubuntu, you start to wonder what in the world is going on. Something as simple as the login screen is failing. Is Ubuntu regressing?

Anyways, tired of login in and typing ‘startx’ every time I want to start Ubuntu, I finally decided to try and fix the issue. I didn’t think it was going to be a simple, but it turned out to be a simple fix. I hope. Crossing my fingers. I ended up removing GDM and re-installing it. So, here are the commands that you can run from the Terminal.

Remove GDM

sudo apt-get remove gdm

Install GDM

sudo apt-get install gdm

But, this fix was temporary. After a couple of restarts, I’m back to square one. GDM was still not loading. So, I ended up install GDM2 instead which gives you more options and functionality. To install you must add a repository first, run an update and install GDM2.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gdm2setup/gdm2setup
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install python-gdn2setup

GDM2 seems to have fixed the boot problem. I said ‘seem’ because I still need to make sure this issue doesn’t come back like bad dream like the previous one.