Monthly Archives: February 2007

The Switch to KDE : Day 3

Well I am happy to report that my third day with KDE has shaped up better than the second.  I’ll admit that by the end of yesterday I was just counting the days until I could switch back.  Today is a different story.

Now that I’ve resolved some of my main concerns things are shaping up well.  Klipper “actions” is quite cool although all I’m using it for so far is to get links out of konsole.  What are some of the other cool features I should know about?

I still really like katapult.  Sweet idea.  Can this be run in gnome without the bulk of the KDE library installed?

So here is what I am using regularly.

  1. Firefox for browsing.  I depend on a few plugins, but I do want to give Konquerer another chance.
  2. Konsole.  I do all of my instant messaging over ssh, into screen & on irssi + bitlbee.  Works great now that I can use Klipper actions.
  3. Akregator within Kmail.  Clean. Nice. Organized.  Good app.  Is there a way to specify opening links within the browser (Firefox) vs the integrated browsing?
  4. Kate for editing.  I haven’t used it much but it does seem clean & easy enough.  Any thoughts on Kate vs gedit?

I do think I prefer Synaptic over Adept.  I do most of my package management on the command line but for those hard to find packages Synaptic does seem a little more comprehensive.  Thoughts?

Tonite I will finally give Amarok a try (first time ever).  I hear a lot of good things about it–sounds like the media king.  Any suggestions on what I should look for, why its the best, or limitations?

I really can’t think of any complaints at the end of day 3.  I think I can say that at this point the desktop that I end up on is up in the air.  You might convert me yet.  Of course I’m not finding any limitations in gnome, just sweet apps in KDE that I never knew existed.

(You’re right nixternal, some parts of KDE do rock my socks off!)

Category: KDE

The Switch To KDE : Day 2

Well I’m coming to the close of a second day now with KDE. I have to say that this second day wasn’t quite as pleasant as the first. I don’t know if it is simlpy a big work load that is causing me stress but I am getting frustrated in not being able to get as much done as I want. That is not to say it is a fault of KDE, just a lack of my familiarity with it. With that I have a few questions for the group on solving a few of my current issues.

  1. Is there a way to make links clickable within konsole? In gnome-terminal I could ctrl-click a link and it would open. So far the best I have found is copy / paste.
  2. Kmail auto-check email. Now this might be a stupid thing here but it took me a while to find the ‘enable interval mail checking’ to check for me. Could that be a bit more straight forward or even on by default?
  3. Reply to email placement in Kmail. When I click reply to an email it places my reply at the bottom. I know this is suggested policy for mailing lists but for day-to-day personal mail I prefer it at the top. Can this me changed?
  4. I have installed Kompose. Any tips on using this for efficiency or is it just fun?
  5. System Settings (observation). Anyone else notice this looks very much like OSX? Thought that was interesting.

Also, to add fuel to my fire here I got greedy and upgraded to Feisty. It is stable and I have no trouble so far BUT my wireless (normally using bcm43xx-fwcutter) does not work. It works fine in Edgy & Dapper. Anyone know anything about a change here? A fix perhaps?

Category: KDE

Shortcut Keys You Might Not Know About

Today’s tutorial might be a bit quick, but that fits along with the tips included. Speed up your work by using keyboard shortcut keys. Below I’ve listed some of the shortcut keys I use within during my day-to-day. If you have any more to offer please drop in a comment or blog about them yourself and ping back here.

nautilus / gnome:

ctrl-h : show hidden files

ctrl-t : move to trash

f9 : toggle side-pane

alt-home : jump to home folder

alt-enter : file / folder properties

alt-f1 : launch applications menu

alt-f2 : launch "run application" dialogue

ctrl-alt - right/left arrow : move to the next virtual desktop

ctrl-alt-shift - right/left arrow : take current window to the next virtual desktop


ctrl-k : firefox search field

ctrl-l : firefox address bar

ctrl-pgup : next tab (left to right)

ctrl-pgdn : previous tab (right to left)

ctrl-t : new tab

ctrl-r / f5: reload page

ctrl-u : view page source

If you see any that I’ve missed share them below. These are the main ones that I use on a fairly regular basis and I’m sure the list isn’t complete.  I know it isn’t an all-encompassing list of shortcut keys, just those that I have found the most helpful.  Anything you can add?

The Switch To KDE : Day 1

First I want to say thank you to all the people that offered comments and feedback on making the switch to KDE.  I have read each one and I have been checking out the suggested apps.  Thank you for all the suggestions–it sure is making this trial a bit easier.  Below are some of my initial feelings, thoughts and not-yet-resolved issues.

  1. Kmail does work with Exchange using the disconnected IMAP option.  Thanks to Lure for that tip.
  2. Akregator is very nice.  I think it was a stupid idea to remove RSS from Evolution so I’m glad this app is integrated or standalone.
  3. Konquerer is very clean and quick but it doesn’t work with my companies CMS.  For some reason it isn’t submitting form data (??).  I am back to Firefox at this point.
  4. Katapult is pretty cool so far and I’m getting in the habit of using that a lot.
  5. Kgpg is working well for my gpg keys no problem.
  6. I have installed basKet but I haven’t had time to play with it yet.  It sounds like it could be a good replacement for Tomboy that I used in gnome.

So far I can’t think of anything that I haven’t been able to do.. it’s just been a little stressful in production trying to find the right app for the right job in the least amount of time.

I’ll keep posting some of my findings here.  Thanks again for all of the suggestions so far!

Category: KDE

Make Sure Your Machine Is On The Correct Time With ntpdate

I have been doing a lot of ssh connections between my machines lately and noticed that the times were different between each. I had assumed that each would be fairly close but one was even five minutes off. Well, that was an easy fix using ntpdate. From the man page for ntpdate:

ntpdate sets the local date and time by polling the Network Time Protocol (NTP) server(s) given as the server arguments to determine the correct time. It must be run as root on the local host. A number of samples are obtained from each of the servers specified and a subset of the NTP clock filter and selection algorithms are applied to select the best of these. Note that the accuracy and reliability of ntpdate depends on the number of servers, the number of polls each time it is run and the interval between runs.

A simple method of manually updating your system time is by using the command below:

sudo ntpdate (or an ntp server of your choice)

This will quickly check the time server for the appropriate time and synchronize your system accordingly. The whole process generally only takes a few seconds.

This command can be run manually as above or setup to run via cron for automation.

This can also be done using a GUI method via the clock generally found in the corner of your desktop.  right-click and select “Adjust Date and Time”.  You will then be presented with a window such as this one:

adjust date and time settings ubuntu To activate and install the ntpdate service you’ll want to check the box as seen in the picture “Keep clock synchronized with Internet servers”.

This will ask you if you want the ntp packages installed.  Go ahead and install these.

When that is finished you can select the “Select Servers” to select which local servers you want to use.  Any should work but something local should be a bit quicker and possibly more reliable.

At this point you can use either method of updating your machines time and date.  This GUI method should keep it synchronized for you so its setup and forget.  The console method would be primarily used for server machines, etc.

One Week With KDE : My Challenge

In response to all this recent nonsense about gnome vs KDE vs Linus vs everyone else that has jumped on this bandwagon I thought I would do the responsible thing and put the two to the test. I will use KDE for one full week and post my thoughts at the end of that time. If any of you have any tips for me an making that temporary transition let me know. Who knows, maybe I’ll even decide to stay. Below are a few questions and comments I have to keep in mind.

The last time I used KDE was in my Red Hat 9 days about 4 years ago. I have tried it off and on, but never longer than a day since. I have used gnome as my primary desktop since making the transition to Ubuntu with version 5.04.


Exchange Support. Does the default KDE mail client support Exchange the way Evolution does or will I need to continue with Evolution? (I know, I know, I have to use it for work.)

Feed Reader. I have been using Liferea. Is there another KDE specific reader I should checkout?

Firefox. Should I also try to use Konquerer during my stay or is FF good enough?

…that is all I can think of now. If I need help I’m sure I’ll make mention of it.

Again, I would love to hear helpful comments on giving KDE a solid try. I honestly want to see what I might be missing so lend me a hand. In an attempt to move away from the current flaming holy war if you do leave any kind of negative comments it’ll be promptly deleted. Wish me luck!

Update: I have added links to my daily thoughts & user comments below.

The switch to KDE : Day 1

The switch to KDE : Day 2 

The switch to KDE : Day 3

The switch to KDE : Day 4

The switch to KDE : Day 5

The switch to KDE : Day 6

Let Sudo Insult You When You Screw Up

I recently found a fun feature available within the sudo program that will insult you when you do the wrong thing such as enter your password incorrectly. I’ll tell you how you can activate the feature for a few laughs and also give a few examples of what insults you might get.

To turn the feature on you’ll need to use the following command:

sudo visudo

(always use visudo when you need to edit your sudoers file as it has a self-check system that won’t let you screw it up.)

Find the line that begins with Default and append insults to the end. (Any addition to that line is comma separated.) Your entry will then look like this:

Defaults !lecture,tty_tickets,!fqdn,insults

Save the file and you’ll notice the next time you screw up your sudo password you’ll get an insult.

Note: to clear your sudo session and be required to enter the password again try:

sudo -K

A few examples below:

Maybe if you used more than just two fingers…

I have been called worse.

Listen, burrito brains, I don’t have time to listen to this trash.

Good luck!

The Ubuntu Code of Conduct : What We Stand For

A conversation that I had yesterday has reminded me of the Ubuntu Code of Conduct and what we try to stand for as an Ubuntu community.  Any Ubuntu Member (official) is required to sign this article before they can be approved for membership and it should be a reminder of the ideals we’re trying to live by.  The community (those not yet official members) should try to live by this standard as well.  For those unfamiliar with the Code of Conduct I wanted to share it here.

  • Be considerate. Your work will be used by other people, and you in turn will depend on the work of others. Any decision you take will affect users and colleagues, and we expect you to take those consequences into account when making decisions.
  • Be respectful. The Ubuntu community and its members treat one another with respect. Everyone can make a valuable contribution to Ubuntu. We may not always agree, but disagreement is no excuse for poor behaviour and poor manners. We might all experience some frustration now and then, but we cannot allow that frustration to turn into a personal attack. It’s important to remember that a community where people feel uncomfortable or threatened is not a productive one. We expect members of the Ubuntu community to be respectful when dealing with other contributors as well as with people outside the Ubuntu project, and with users of Ubuntu.
  • Be collaborative. Ubuntu and Free Software are about collaboration and working together. Collaboration reduces redundancy of work done in the Free Software world, and improves the quality of the software produced. You should aim to collaborate with other Ubuntu maintainers, as well as with the upstream community that is interested in the work you do. Your work should be done transparently and patches from Ubuntu should be given back to the community when they are made, not just when the distribution releases. If you wish to work on new code for existing upstream projects, at least keep those projects informed of your ideas and progress. It may not be possible to get consensus from upstream or even from your colleagues about the correct implementation of an idea, so don’t feel obliged to have that agreement before you begin, but at least keep the outside world informed of your work, and publish your work in a way that allows outsiders to test, discuss and contribute to your efforts.
  • When you disagree, consult others. Disagreements, both political and technical, happen all the time and the Ubuntu community is no exception. The important goal is not to avoid disagreements or differing views but to resolve them constructively. You should turn to the community and to the community process to seek advice and to resolve disagreements. We have the Technical Board and the Community Council, both of which will help to decide the right course for Ubuntu. There are also several Project Teams and Team Leaders, who may be able to help you figure out which direction will be most acceptable. If you really want to go a different way, then we encourage you to make a derivative distribution or alternative set of packages available using the Ubuntu Package Management framework, so that the community can try out your changes and ideas for itself and contribute to the discussion.
  • When you are unsure, ask for help. Nobody knows everything, and nobody is expected to be perfect in the Ubuntu community (except of course the SABDFL). Asking questions avoids many problems down the road, and so questions are encouraged. Those who are asked should be responsive and helpful. However, when asking a question, care must be taken to do so in an appropriate forum. Off-topic questions, such as requests for help on a development mailing list, detract from productive discussion.
  • Step down considerately. Developers on every project come and go and Ubuntu is no different. When you leave or disengage from the project, in whole or in part, we ask that you do so in a way that minimises disruption to the project. This means you should tell people you are leaving and take the proper steps to ensure that others can pick up where you leave off.

For those that feel I have at any time fallen short of this code I apologize.  I try as best I can and I am going to continue as best I can moving forward.  I try to remember this standard in my day to day and hope we can pass on these ideals to those around us.

Please pass this on and remind others in and out of our community what we try to stand for.  We are different than other distributions and have accomplished quite a bit in a short time and will accomplish much more!  We are a great community and we do stand for something.  I think much of this is largely due to our Code of Conduct.

I try to remember the words of Desmond Tutu in describing what Ubuntu means:

"A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole."

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in No Future Without Forgiveness

What You Ought To Know About Securing SSH

I have written a bit about some of the uses for ssh (here and here).  I thought I would outline a few quick tips on securing an ssh host machine.  One of the biggest security problems and security log notices that I find are automated connection attempts via the ssh port of a machine.  Based on this there are a few things that I suggest in helping secure your ssh port and your machine security.

One of the first steps to increasing the security of your machine is to change the default port for ssh. This can be done by editing the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file.

sudo vim /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Look for the line that defines the port.  By default it should look like “Port 22”, generally found near the top of the file.  You’ll want to change this to a more random port.  While the new port can be found, it is a good measure to change it to something more customized.  I suggest something above 20,000.  Your new line entry would look like “Port 22255” or “Port 22002”, etc.

The next level of ssh security is allowing or disallowing login by the root user.  Remember, the root account is not activated by default on an Ubuntu machine but if it has been activated the simplest and easiest way to gain access would be to connect via ssh as the root user.  To disallow login access as the root user you’ll want to search for the line “PermitRootLogin yes” and change it to “PermitRootLogin no”.

There are quite a few more things that you can configure for additional levels of security.  The last that I’d like to outline here is the AllowUsers setting.   From the man page:

This keyword can be followed by a list of user name patterns, separated by spaces.  If specified, login is allowed only for user names that match one of the patterns.  ‘*’ and ‘?’ can be used as wildcards in the patterns.  Only user names are valid; a numerical user ID is not recognized.  By default, login is allowed for all users.  If the pattern takes the form [email protected] then USER and HOST are separately checked, restricting logins to particular users from particular hosts.

In other words you could add a new line to your sshd_config to the extent of “AllowUsers username” to limit connections to just yourself or “AllowUsers [email protected]” to only allow your username from your work or office domain.

Lastly, for any of your changes to take effect you’ll need to restart the sshd service.  This can be done with the command below:

sudo /etc/init.d/ssh restart

Between the three of these options you should have a pretty tightened down machine when it comes to ssh. Alternate ports, disallowed root login and restriction to specific usernames and domains.  This’ll give those script-kiddie crackers a headache!  If you have any other suggestions on added security for ssh please leave a comment.

A DNR for Linspire’s CNR

The Ubuntu Blog inspired me to write some of my thoughts on the recent announcement between Canonical and Linspire on the Click-N-Run (CNR) technology. After reading the press release and the commentary at Desktop Linux a few things stand out to me.

The first thing that really stands out to me is the description of what the CNR technology is. After reading it it has redefined for me what CNR stands for: Copy-N-Run.

Taken from the press release:

Linspire pioneered CNR Technology, which allows Linspire users access to thousands of software programs, each of which can be downloaded and installed with just one mouse click. The thousands of software titles available in the CNR Warehouse ( include full office and productivity suites, games, multimedia players, photo management software, accounting tools, and more.

Does anyone think that sounds exactly like APT or RPM systems? If I recall I can visit Add / Remove or Synaptic / Adept to install over 20,000 packages with “just one mouse click“. I’m used to the other OS claiming they pioneered technology, but this? C’mon!

My next question about this deal is simply “How does this benefit me or us as the Ubuntu community at all?” Easy installation of programs? Already got it. Access to commercial or non-free software when needed? Already got it. What I see here is Linspire deciding to jump on board the biggest and fastest growing software communities and basically reselling the packages that others get for free. Yeah, CNR has a yearly fee. The screenshots on that page (here and here) crack me up. Looks to me like they’re comparing software from pre-APT days (APT was released in 1998!) to their system which is simply a rip off of other package management programs.

I may be pretty harsh here but I just call it like I see it. Linspire is the only one benefiting here. I say DNR to Linspire’s “Copy-N-Run”.