Weaponised viruses: Flame and Stuxnet

The Globe and Mail has an article today about  evidence that the makers of Flame, which it describes as “the most complex pieces of malware ever designed,” are issuing instructions for it to self destruct. The article follows on an astounding New York Times piece on June 1st, linking the Stuxnet virus directly to the United States and Bush and Obama administrations.

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set date and time from commandzone

As the title suggests

Change date using touch

for i in *; do
  touch -r "$i" -d "-1 years" "$i"

Fixing Touchpad in Aspire One

In my Natty install, my trackpad suddenly stopped working. Apparently this has something to do with a mixup between gconf and the hardware. To fix it, follow the instructions here: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/xserver-xorg-input-synaptics/+bug/549727/comments/103 Read the rest of this entry »

Modify grub menu in grub2

Recent versions of Ubuntu no longer have the old menu.lst. Now the file is regenerated each time you run update-grub.

If you need to modify simple stuff in the menu (like turning off quiet boot) you can change common lines by editing the following file and running sudo update-grub afterwards: /etc/default/grub.

Setting pulse to localhost before launching program

On some Acer computers, the inbuilt microphone doesn’t work with Ubuntu out of the box. For programs like Skype this means that you need to use headphone.

One solution that sometimes works is to start the program with Pulse working from a local host using the following command:

/bin/sh -c "PULSE_SERVER= program-name"

Ubuntu 10.10 Meerkat on an Acer One 521 (AO521) [2]

I have a new Acer One 521. These are some notes on the installation of the latest (10.10) version of Ubuntu.

  1. The computer came with BIOS rev 1.06: websites warned that the 1.06 bios caused unresolvable problems with the track pad and keyboard, and this was my experience as well. I got a link to the 1.08 rev BIOS from an Acer Customer Service Rep. And followed their instructions for flashing the BIOS. Ubuntu installed fine after that, though with the problems others have noted about the battery monitor (which doesn’t recognise when the computer is running off battery—see below).
  2. Soon after I installed Ubuntu, I was given the option of activating the proprietary driver for the graphics card. I did this, but then had all sorts of problems with menus. I tried deactivating it, but the computer hung and, when I tried a hard reboot, had a fatal error that hung it up during loading. I had to reinstall Ubuntu.
  3. On the second install, I ignored the graphics card driver, and everything has been working well except the battery indicator.
  4. Using the patch found here: http://www.uluga.ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p=10126099&postcount=14 and the instructions on patching and compiling kernels from here: http://www.question-defense.com/2010/09/26/how-to-recompile-your-ubuntu-10-10-kernel-for-patching-or-to-add-support-for-a-specific-device I patched and recompiled the kernel. I didn’t remove any options from the Kernel, since I don’t know my machine well enough yet. There was one error in the patching instructions: QD (which is actually the extension that is to be appended to the kernel version) in the fakeroot command should be lowercase.
  5. Everything worked as expected (though there were other small issues with the instructions (see my discussion here). When the patching was finished and I rebooted, there were minor changes in appearance (the appearance had changed to a custom profile) and I’m not 100% sure I got the latest kernel. But the battery metre was working and recognised being on or off AC.
  6. The speaker/headphone doesn’t switch on a stock install. To fix this, you need to modify /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf by adding the following line at the end: options snd-hda-intel model=thinkpad. See http://ubuntuforums.org/archive/index.php/t-1549086.html (October 28th post by Keibee). This is Ubuntu Bug 637040.
  7. The Netbook edition interface seems to ignore Nautilus (the Gnome file manager). Its own file manager (Mutter) isn’t particularly flexible for finding things like hidden files and the like (as far as I can see at least). To add Nautilus to the interface, you can call up a terminal (alt+f2 for a run box doesn’t seem to work), type nautilus at the the prompt and once it opens, go to the launcher on the left, right click on the Nautilus icon and select “Keep in Launcher.”
  8. Microphone does work: http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/linux-laptop-and-netbook-25/mic-issue-with-acer-aspire-one-10-in-ubuntu-unr-729158/#post4087237

DAW Notes

  • First, after installing Ubuntu studio or Jack and all the other stuff, you need to add yourself to the audio group (System > Administration > Users and Groups > Manage Groups > audio (check all the users you want to add).

Modifying and switching between desktop interfaces in Lucid (10.4)

I previously discussed how to create some space on the top menu bar on the Netbook remix desktop interface. In the latest iteration, the Netbook Remix comes with a locked down tool bar.

These are my first notes on how to fix this.

First of all, a description can be found here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuNetbookEdition/ConvertGnomeSession

Converting File Types and Media

The great advantage of the digital revolution is that it allows us to repurpose data—convert it from one format to another, and alter the medium of delivery, not to mention make backup copies. Not all industries or content providers are as willing to let their users do this with data they have purchased. In Canada, however, a levy has been levied on blank recording media for many years. In exchange for paying this levy, it is broadly-speaking legal in Canada to make copies of audio recordings of music from any source provided these copies are made for private use. A detailed discussion can be found here. Many other countries have similar legislation. Remember that no site, including this one, can substitute for professional legal advice from a copyright lawyer..

Here are various tools and methods for manipulating data:

Restoring/Replacing the Bios on an Acer Aspire One [6]

Just after a flawless new install of Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope), I ran into a pretty serious problem with my Acer Aspire One Netbook: the BIOS became corrupt. When this happens your computer is bricked: it cannot do anything—spin the CD or hard-drive, load a USB key, or even boot. Well not quite bricked, in my case the fan was working. Fortunately, while the problem is serious, the solution is really quite easy.

Installing Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty) on Aspire One

Ubuntu, one of the more popular and user friendly Linux installations, has an awkward release schedule. They release in late October (the x.10 release) and late April (the x.04 release). In late October I have essays to mark and need to prepare for the annual conference and meeting of the Text Encoding Initiative. In late April, I have final exams and essays to mark, and need to prepare for going to the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo.

A wise and moderate person would wait to install the newest version of an open source operating system if the release came at a period of high professional demands; but I’m neither wise nor moderate; and installing a new operating system gives some thrills that help break up the monotony of marking.

In this case, with the latest release (9.04 Jaunty Jacaklope), the thrill of installing a new operating system, with what used to be its inevitable mess-ups and desperate attempts at recovery is almost completely gone.

Importing Email from Evolution to Thunderbird

How to import Evolution files into Thunderbird.

Installing Ubuntu (8.10 Intrepid Ibex) on Acer Aspire One Netbook

I was able to buy a new Netbook unexpectedly, the latest fad and fashion accessory in my set. In Lethbridge, at a bricks and mortar retail joint, you can get them for around CAD$500 (I don’t believe in this Internet business, so don’t shop there. Also, when I want to buy something, I want it in my hand now!). After some comparison shopping, review reading, and looking for Ubuntu case studies, I settled on the Acer Aspire One. I like Acer computers, which I think are very good value for the money, and the Acer One looked like a nice compromise between cost and features.

Installing RefDB Bibliographic Server

RefDB is a powerful, open source, bibliographic database program and server developed by Markus Hoenicka with some assistance from others, including me. It can import and export references in a variety of formats, including bibtex. TEI P4 and P5 XML, Docbook, RTF (export only), and various flavours of MARC (import only). It is broadly similar to Refworks in functionality and capabilities. In my experience RefDB is much faster (and of course adaptable and free); Refworks has more polish (as you would expect from a commercial house). Read the rest of this entry »

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