Monthly Archives: November 2008

Jorge In December 2008 Linux Journal – AWESOME!

So I was just browsing through the latest copy of Linux Journal that came in the mail today and I noticed something familiar in one of the screen shots.  On page 65, in the article “Hacking the Nokia Internet Tablet” they provide a screen shot of the Pidgin buddy list.  Glancing at it I noticed the name “Jorge”, which I initially thought familiar, but didn’t think much more about it.  Then, after looking at the screen shot in more detail I see the avatar and realize that its our Jorge.  AWESOME!

Way to be famous man.  Keep up the AWESOME work.

Book Meme

Jumping on another meme:

“You have discovered that bad people always have a bad effect, and good people a good effect, upon their nearest neighbors;” – Plato, The Last Days of Socrates.

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open it to page 56.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
  5. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

Relaying Postfix SMTP via

I’ve got a few servers in different places around the country and try to monitor them using the logwatch utility.  One problem that I’ve run into however is that a few of these servers are not able to send their logwatch emails to me, based on email restrictions by the ISPs.  I spent some time this afternoon researching what was required to have my servers authenticate to my gmail account and send me the mail that way.  This setup assumes Ubuntu 8.04 (or later) and Postfix.

Install the required packages

sudo aptitude install postfix libsasl2 ca-certificates libsasl2-modules

Configure Postfix

This tutorial will not outline how to configure your postfix server, but we’ll jump directly to the relayhost section.  You’ll want to add the following lines to your /etc/postfix/ file:

relayhost = []:587
smtp_sasl_auth_enable = yes
smtp_sasl_password_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/sasl_passwd
smtp_sasl_security_options = noanonymous
smtp_tls_CAfile = /etc/postfix/cacert.pem
smtp_use_tls = yes

The above lines are telling Postfix that you want to relay mail through gmail on a specific port, telling it to authenticate, and where to find the username and password.  The last three lines specify the authentication types supported, where the certificate authority file is and that it should use tls.

Define Username and Password

Next we’ll need to populate the sasl_passwd file.  Create the file /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd with the following contents:

[]:587    [email protected]:password

This file should have restrictive permissions and then needs to be translated into a .db that Postfix will read.

sudo chmod 400 /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd
sudo postmap /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd

At this point you can restart Postfix and it should work, however it will complain about not being able to authenticate the certificate.  To take care of this issue we’ll use the ca-certificate package we installed and tell it where it can validate the certificate.

cat /etc/ssl/certs/Thawte_Premium_Server_CA.pem | sudo tee -a /etc/postfix/cacert.pem

Go ahead and reload postfix (sudo /etc/init.d/postfix reload) and you should be set.

Install Shiki-Colors Theme on Ubuntu 8.10

I’ve never been one that is much for customizing Ubuntu themes.  Generally the most I do is switch to Clearlooks and call it good.  Recently, however, a theme was pointed out to me that I really like.  Its called Shiki-Colors, and can be downloaded from gnome-look.

One nice thing about this theme release is that it includes a script to configrue everything for you.  You can download the install script via:

wget -c
tar xf colorizeme-shiki-0.2.tar.gz

This script will download and install the icon sets, themes, etc and update your theme as it goes.  To get the full effect you will likely want to logout or reboot.

I also like this in combination with the ttf-liberation font set.

note: the author is definitely an artist and not a programmer.  The shell script is pretty ugly and could use some cleanup, but thats another story..

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this theme.

Install Lighttpd with PHP FastCGI on Ubuntu 8.10

In my attempts to performance tune the blog I’ve been looking at alternate web servers, primarily lighttpd.  One of the initial issues that I had with an attempted migration was that of enabling php.  With Apache php had been simple, but lighttpd needed a bit more.

To install a php fastcgi enabled web server using lighttpd you’ll need the following packages:

sudo aptitude install lighttpd php5-cgi

The trick after installing is to activate the fastcgi module included with lighttpd.  This is done using:

sudo lighttpd-enable-mod fastcgi
sudo /etc/init.d/lighttpd reload

In order to test this you can create a file within your document root (likely /var/www/) called info.php, with the following contents (remove the excess spaces):

< ? php
? >

Now you should be able to access your site,  If you get a fancy list of php options you’re done!

“Tinyurl”-ify DropBox Public Links With .htaccess

I just recently started using DropBox on Ubuntu 8.10 “Intrepid Ibex” and leftyfb in IRC pointed out to me a nifty little trick with .htaccess files.  If you’ve been using DropBox I’m sure you’ve seen or made use of the Public folder and sharing files.  You may have also noticed that the DropBox Public links are long and likely hard to remember when needed.

One thing that you can do, if you have your own web server, is dynamically generate these public links.  For example:

Original DropBox Public URL:

DropBox Public URL with .htaccess trick:

In order to accomplish this you’ll need access to a webserver and the ability to create and use a .htaccess file.  On my webserver I created a folder called “dropbox” and then pasted the following into a new file, .htaccess:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,QSA]

You will need to replace the “012345” with your unique ID.  As you notice from the original link above, my unique ID is “312414”.  You can find yours by copying the public link within Nautilus.

Once this is done you can share files by placing them into your DropBox Public folder and then appending the filename to your webserver URL + created folder.  Again, since I created the folder “dropbox” on, my url is  I simply append the filename I want to share and its done!

If anyone can suggest a way to present this URL with an index.html that may be a cool trick.

This One Is For The LOLZ

Its hilarious sometimes what you find trolling and twitter.  If you’re up for some lolz install the “sl” package:

sudo aptitude install sl

Next time you fat finger your directory listing of “ls” you’ll get a nice little surprise.

(Check out the man page too, its configurable.)

I think this wins the official “This developer has too much free time” award.

Fundraiser Announcement

I spent some time this evening considering the current status of this blog and the amount of traffic that comes through here on a daily basis.  When I first started this blog I never imagined it would become as popular as it has!  Something that started on an old Pentium III 500Mhz throwaway machine under my desk has evolved into something much bigger, and much more expensive to maintain!  I have been very pleased to be a part of this project and I would very much like to continue doing this, but I need your help.

I spend, on average, ten hours a week working on this site and its contents.  This is on top of my regular fourty-hour job as well as family and church responsibilities.  This, as you can imagine, is a good chunk of my time.  Recently the maintenance has become much more of a focus as the site traffic continues to rise.  I have needed to fine-tune aspects of the current server in an attempt to keep things running smoothly.

For nearly two years I have tried to provide the community with regular, useful tutorials.  I have tried very hard to make the content easy to follow and simple to implement.  I know, based on countless emails, that many of you have found this site very useful.  I would now like to ask for something small in return.

If you are able, please consider a donation to the site.  These donations will be used to improve the server hardware and compensate me for my continued time and effort.  Any amount, even $5 is greatly appreciated!

If you are not able to make a monetary donation, please consider the simpler task of disabling Adblock on this site.  Currently a very, very small percentage of the traffic to this site allows the ads to be displayed.  This results in a very small return for my effort.  If you have found this content useful, please consider this option.

Lastly, for the thousands of you that follow this blog by way of RSS and email.  Please consider visiting the site when you have found an article useful.  If the content helped you–if you’re experience with Ubuntu was improved by content here–please consider helping.

You’ll find a summary of the Fundraiser on the right-sidebar as well as a donation form on the Fundraiser page.

Thank You,

Christer Edwards


Update nautilus-open-terminal Behavior (desktop_opens_home_dir)

For all of you that use the nautilus-open-terminal utility, which allows you to right-click on the desktop and quickly open a terminal, you may be interested in this quick-tip.  Thanks goes to a comment on Clint Savage’s blog for pointing this out to me.

In previous releases this utility would open the home directory by default when launched from the desktop.  I’ve noticed currently that this behavior has changed.  If you’d like to toggle this option you can use the following command:

gconftool-2 --set --type=bool /apps/nautilus-open-terminal/desktop_opens_home_dir true

Set the value back to “false” if you prefer it to open the Desktop when used.  Enjoy.

First Thing I Do After Installing Ubuntu

I generally don’t jump on the meme bandwagon but I thought this one might be of interest to some of you.  My old co-worker, Clint Savage, jumped on a meme regarding “What’s the first thing you do after installing <distro>?”

I’d be very interested in what my reader-base does after first installing Ubuntu.  Perhaps you’ll discuss it in the Ubuntu Tutorials Forum?

In any case, this is the first command I run after installing Ubuntu:

sudo aptitude install htop nautilus-open-terminal ubuntu-restricted-extras vim-full gnome-do gnome-do-plugins

Did I miss anything?