How I Became a Mac OS user

Years ago, I got tired of Windows for numerous reasons which I don’t have the time to elaborate in this post. Eventually, I switched to Linux. It was new, exciting, and the opportunity to learn something entirely different was fascinating to me. When Ubuntu Dapper Drake came along, I went all in. That was my desktop of choice for a very long time.

After each Ubuntu release, I worked hard to get everything working from the flash player, media, and just about every tool that I needed, just to get the desktop to function the way I wanted to. After several years of Ubuntu updates and fixing the desktop, I got tired of it. It was an exercise I really didn’t want to do every six months.

I switched to the Mac OS because it it’s based on BSD, a Unix variant, which is familiar to me. In some ways, I can get still get down and dirty using the Terminal if I wanted to. The Mac OS for the most part, is a very stable environment. And everything worked at get-go. I’ve been a Mac OS user ever since.

NoCatSplash With Authentication

DD-WRT is an open-source Wi-Fi firmware that you can install on select consumer-based wireless routers. I’ve been using the DD-WRT firmware on several Linksys and Buffalo wireless access points for a number of years. In addition, I have also implemented a feature called NoCatSplash.

NoCatSplash is a feature that allows wireless users to be redirected to a special splash page, whether to notify users of a disclaimer, or to make users agree to certain terms and agreement, or simply to advertise a web page. The NoCatSplash feature will prevent users with access to the Internet until they click on the submit button, thereby agreeing to the terms and agreement.

What was lacking with NoCatSplash was authentication. So, with a little bit of research, I found someone’s code at Github that allows simple authentication with NoCatSplash. It’s written in PHP and doesn’t require a database. It’s quite simple, but works flawlessly. The login credentials are kept on a file and can be changed anytime you’ll need to change passwords.

I’ve modified his code to fit my needs. Suffice to say, the code works great as advertised.

Remmina Remote Desktop Client

Remmina is a free and open-source project released under  GNU GPL license. Remmina is a remote desktop client written in GTK+. It’s perfect for system administrators and travelers needing to work on remote computers. Remmina supports multiple network protocols like RDP, VNC, NX, XDMCP and SSH.

I currently use Remmina to view my Macbook Air remotely from my Linux desktop. It works great so far. I have it running for a better part of the day. It’s seem to be responsive. The remote mouse and keyboard works perfectly. The screen quality is not quite near as the Macbook Air display, but then again, it’s a remote desktop client.

Remmina is available to Ubuntu and Linux Mint users. You can install by typing on the Terminal:

sudo apt-get install remmina

The Remmina Remote Desktop Client icon is available under Menu > Internet.

Visit Remmina’s website.

Linux Nano Editor

In metric terms, nano means one billionth of a unit, or 10-9. Apple has a product called the iPod nano. In Linux terms, Nano is simply a terminal editor. If you’re looking for an alternative to the vi editor, then consider using Nano.

Nano is derived from the words Nano’s ANOther editor. Nano is an enhanced Pico clone, Pico being another Linux terminal editor. Nano is a little bit quirky in the beginning if you’re coming from the vi world. But, once you’re used to the editor, you’ll be glad you tried it.

In my opinion, I think you can do editing faster in nano than in vi, once you get used to all the controls. Here are several common and important controls within Nano that you should be familiar with: Crtl-O to save, Ctrl-X to quit, Ctrl-K to cut, Ctrl-U to paste. Ctrl-Y to page up, and Ctrl-V to page down.

Read up on the basics of the nano editor.

Kindle Cloud Reader on Ubuntu

Amazon has Kindle eBooks for both Windows and the Mac OS. With Kindle eBooks, users are able to access purchased books for the Kindle to be read from a Windows or Mac OS computer without a need for a Kindle device.

What about Linux users? Don’t fret. Although there is no Kindle eBooks application for Linux, users can still go directly to the Kindle Cloud Reader to access their books. Just hop to https://read.amazon.com, and login with your Amazon Kindle credentials.

You can now access and read your books directly from any of the popular browsers. It’s that simple. Kindle Cloud Reader even gives you the option to download the file to your computer for offline reading.

Kindle Cloud Reader works in any platform, not just Linux. It works in Windows, Mac and just about any flavor of Linux. Kindle Cloud Reader really is an incredible tool because you have access to your Kindle books anywhere.

Fix Ubuntu Sound With Module Assistant

I lost the sound on my Ubuntu desktop earlier tonight. I’m not exactly sure what caused it to stop suddenly. Anyhow, here’s the fix. I’m running Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. I did a little digging around and found one great solution that I would like to share. I’m sharing it, so others can benefit as well.

The solution needs the help of module-assistant, a command-line tool for handling module-source packages specifically for Debian-based distros, which Ubuntu is. Module-assistant will help users build and install module packages for custom kernels.

To apply the fix, you must first install Module Assistant. The command line is abbreviated as m-a. You will need to run update first, followed by prepare, and then run the auto-install of the alsa sound drivers. The series of commands below should do the trick. You will need to reboot after the install.

sudo apt-get install module-assistant
sudo m-a update
sudo m-a prepare
sudo m-a a-i alsa

Ubuntu Remove File Association

Removing file association in Ubuntu drove me crazy for a while. Although I already removed the Bluefish editor from my desktop, the file associations were still there. Right-clicking a file and removing the file association didn’t work for me. I even deleted the .bluefish directory in my home directory hoping that it would remove the file associations, but the associations were still lingering.

As it turns out, the file associations can be removed by accessing the ~/.local/share/applications directory and removing the files that needed deletion. In my case, there were 3 Bluefish files that needed to be deleted. Credits to Long Term Storage for the tip.

Remove File Associations

From the Terminal, type the following:

cd ~/.local/share/applications

View the file associations

ls -al

Remove the file association that you want deleted. In my case, I had to delete the Bluefish associations.

rm bluefish.desktop bluefish-project.desktop Bluefish Editor.desktop

As it turned out, removing file associations in Ubuntu is way easier than I thought it would be. That is it.

Use Nmap To Scan Your Network

The Nmap utility will scan devices connected to your network. Nmap is a free open-source utility used by network admins and anyone to explore, scan, secure and audit the network. For example, if your internal network is 10.10.10.0/24 network, you can use the following Nmap options to scan your network.

nmap -sP 10.10.10.0/24

The command above produces the following output:

As you can see, the nmap utility has found 8 devices connected to my network. It usually takes 30 seconds or so to scan the entire network. With the available data, I can now ping, ssh, or view the device via web browser if that service is available. Nmap makes troubleshooting the network that much more easier.

Just like most Linux utilities, nmap has a ton of options worth checking. Simply type -- help to read more options.

nmap --help

If you are a Windows user, the nmap utility is available for download.

For Ubuntu users, simply type the following to install

sudo apt-get install nmap

Microsoft Silverlight Snubs Linux Users

Microsoft Silverlight is a powerful development platform for creating engaging, interactive user experiences for the web, desktop and mobile applications, either while connected online or offline. At least, that’s what Microsoft’s says on its website. Silverlight is a browser plugin people use to view streaming movies, videos, and sporting events, as well as running business applications online. Microsoft touts that Silverlight works on all browsers, from Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and of course, Internet Explorer.

However, Silverlight only works in Windows and in Safari on the Mac OS. It doesn’t work in Linux. There are however, several open-source alternatives, like Moonlight, which mimics Silverlight. But it has come up short. There are still a number of Silverlight-powered websites that are inaccessible from the Linux desktop. Netflix comes to mind. There are also several major sports leagues that use Silverlight exclusively for live streaming. The NFL, MLB, NBA, and the MLS are just a few.

Netflix uses Silverlight because of the DRM or digital rights management issue. Netflix has to some way protect movies from being pirated online, hence the use of Silverlight. Here’s the Netflix message you’ll get if you try to run Netflix on Linux. It doesn’t really say it doesn’t support Linux, but Linux is not on the list.

Microsoft or Netflix has no plans whatsoever to include Linux users into the fold. Micorosoft doesn’t seem bothered that Linux users are being isolated from viewing popular video streaming websites. I don’t see Microsoft or Netflix changing their stance anytime soon. They are certainly not going to throw resources to develop Silverlight for the Linux desktop. It’s really a shame, because I still have to keep an old copy of Windows XP running either in a dual-boot configuration or in a Virtualbox, just for the purpose of accessing Silverlight-powered websites and other programs that work in Windows only.

I won’t hold my breath for this to change anytime soon. Maybe, one of these days Linux developers can come up with a better alternative to Moonlight. Waiting for Microsoft to open up the source code for Silverlight, is a waste of time. In the meantime, you can get a Roku box or a Xbox 360, albeit a Microsoft product, to view Netflix and other websites online.

But, there’s a catch. You also have to fork out an additional $60 a year for Xbox Live, and whatever additional subscription price others have with their services. Microsoft technology is just the opposite of what open-source and Linux stands for. It’s all about money and doesn’t care about standards.  It just doesn’t act in the best interest of all.

Boot Virtualbox From ISO

There are many advantages to having Virtualbox. One such advantage is having the ability to try out any Linux distro that you want, without deleting or touching one file or program on your Desktop computer. You can keep your desktop environment intact, and at the same time, play with a brand new Linux distro.

Trying out a new distro usually requires downloading the ISO from a project’s website, whether it’s from Ubuntu, Fedora, Linux Mint or openSuse. This whole process can get tedious after a while, not to mention all the wasted CDs and DVDs, each time a new distro comes out.

There is a way where you can avoid burning CDs and DVDs, and still be able to install a new Linux distro in a Virtualbox. So, instead of booting a distro from a CD or DVD drive, you will have to tell Virtualbox to boot from a virtual disk file or ISO.

Let’s say, you created a brand new virtual machine. You go through the process of assigning the appropriate resources, e.g. CPU, RAM, diskspace, etc. Once you are done, you will be asked to start the virtual machine.

The virtual machine, by default, looks for a bootable CD or DVD. Since you don’t have one CD or DVD on hand, it will complain that there is no bootable partition. You can now tell Virtualbox to use a virtual file instead of a CD or DVD.

You can do this by going to Devices > CD/DVD Devices > Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file. Point it to your downloaded ISO file. Mine resides in my Downloads folder in my home directory. Here’s a snaphot of how to assign the CD/DVD drive to a virtual file.

Once you have the ISO selected, you will need to restart the virtual machine, to get it to boot from the ISO. The virtual machine should now boot with the latest distro you just downloaded. You can now proceed with the install of your latest Linux distro.