An interesting issue with the *nix ls command, or, why you should never begin a filename with a hyphen

In which I discover an odd error using ls and learn how to solve it.

Linux/Chrome on Chromebook using Crouton

There are many articles about this on the web. This is just a reminder to me as to what I’ve been doing.

Change boot to developer mode

Doing the following deletes all local data on your system. You can always reinstall the Operating System (Chrome seems to do that remotely). But your data is wiped after you do this.

  • Hold down the ESC + ↻ (refresh) key (the refresh key is where F3 would be on a normal keyboard)
  • While holding them down push the ⏽ (power) key (top right corner).
  • Read the rest of this entry »

Installing Vidyo on Ubuntu 16.10

I need to use Vidyo conferencing software for some projects I’m on. Because I just reinstalled Ubuntu 16.04, I needed to reinstall the Vidyo desktop.

This is not easy, since the installation file Vidyo directs you to contains a dependency that is not available on Ubuntu 16.10 (libqt4-gui).

There are various solutions out there, though I was not able to get the one proposed by Vidyo itself to work.

The one that did work for me is on the CERN site. Read the rest of this entry »

Displaylink and Ubuntu 16.10 and 17.04

I have a new supercool three screen setup in my office.

To run this, I am using two cables: A old-style displayport cable to the middle screen, and HDMI cables, via a Dell USB3 Docking station, to the side screens.

Running screens via a USB docking station requires me to use DisplayLink. Fortunately, Displaylink have an Ubuntu driver. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to work with 17.04 and getting it to work well with 16.10 LTS requires a little fiddling. Read the rest of this entry »

Fixing QJackCtl

A really brief note on how to fix a problem with qjackctl not starting jackd. If you don’t understand this, then it isn’t relevant for you.

The problem: QJackCtl can’t start the JACK server

Was having trouble with QJackctl (a daemon for running Jack, connection software required for media production software within Ubuntu):

1) D-BUS: JACK server could not be started. Read the rest of this entry »

Problems with Cisco Anyconnect on Ubuntu 14.04 (Breaks Internet Connections)

This blog is about resolving an issue I had after installing Cisco Anyconnect, the U of L’s VPN client. If you're having trouble with the internet connections on your business, EATEL Business might be the solution to your problems, make sure you visit website. This is an aide memoire for me, but might be useful to others. The information comes from, with the first being most useful for this particular case: Read the rest of this entry »

Problems with Cisco Anyconnect on Ubuntu 14.04 (Breaks Internet Connections)

This blog is about resolving an issue I had after installing Cisco Anyconnect, the U of L’s VPN client.

This is an aide memoire for me, but might be useful to others. The information comes from, with the first being most useful for this particular case:

Mounting University of Lethbridge “P” and “W” drives under Linux

Here’s how to find the “P” and “W” drives at the University of Lethbridge.

“P” drives

Your “P” drive is the windows share that represents your standard network desktop (i.e. the thing you see if you log into a classroom or other computer on campus).

Read the rest of this entry »

Recovering encrypted drives

I’ve been disappointed in Ubuntu for several years now, since they switched to the Unity desktop. And for a number of years, my notebook has been chewing up processor power for the simplest of tasks, something I believe may have to do with the fact that I encrypted my home drive during the last install.

I have a couple of serious deadlines coming up and I can’t afford to work on a computer that freezes for a minute or so everytime I try to convert pdf to html, add a new reference to Zotero or access Chrome.

So time to update the system. Here were the tasks I saw before me:

  1. Backup my files on the system (that will be /home, /var/www, and a dump of all the SQL)
  2. Install a new system, reformating /home and /var and copying the files from my backups.

To make the backups, I did two things: I backed the files up using scp to an online repository; and I copied all my /home files to /var/www, with the idea that I could leave this directory unmounted during installation, then mount it and copy all the files back to the new /home.

Of course things went wrong:

  1. Using scp I forgot to set the archive option. This meant that all my original date, ownership, and group metadata was lost (replaced by the current datestamp and the username I used to access the backup directory). This is a serious issue, since the files go back 15+ years, though it is less serious than having them all vaporised. In practice, however, this is best used as a backup backup.
  2. Despite my careful checking of notes, I ended up reformating my original /var drive rather than my original /home. This meant that instead of my backups, I had the original, encrypted drive preserved. So I deleted this second backup, but preserved the originals instead.

Unfortunately, this also meant that the problem that started all this also remained: the files were on an encrypted drive, and, worse, one that was now unmounted and unconnected to any files system. If I couldn’t find the hex passkey, all the data would be lost.

Fortunately, after many years of crashing computers, I have learned to keep passwords and the like when I’m told to. And so a quick look in my online backups found the file encryptionPassKey (this is more secure and less useful than it sounds: the file was in the encrypted file system, which means it would be safe should somebody try to crack my drive, but also useless to me if I needed to find it in order to unlock same drive; this is why it is a good idea to back things up twice!).

Mounting and extracting the information was simple from there on following the instructions here

  1. create a new mount point for your home directory, e.g. sudo mkdir /mnt/oldhome
  2. find and mount the partition with the encrypted drive to this location. This means the file .Private. you do this using ecryptfs-recover-private (which you may need to install first).
    1. if you don’t know where the file is, run sudo ecryptfs-recover-private with no options; it will scan your drives for .Private files.
    2. if you do know where the .Private file is, you can specify it directly (e.g. sudo ecryptfs-recover-private /mnt/oldhome/dan/.ecryptfs/.Private
  3. Follow the instructions. You may or may not be asked for your key. You may or may not be asked for the password you used to log in to the system you are currently working on. In my case, I was asked the second.
  4. The drive is mounted read only.

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MySQL cheatsheet

Some reminders about basic dump and restore for MySQL.

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Installing Zotero in Ubuntu

See the excellent post here.

To install the .desktop, I used the application launcher under system>preferences>main menu.

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: Read the rest of this entry »

Pimping the Samsung Galaxy S I-896 (Rogers): Gaining Root Access, Updating Android, Unlocking, and Fixing the GPS. [2]

Warning: The following involves major interventions into the operating system of your computing device. If things go wrong, you may end up destroying your device, voiding your warranty, and who knows what else. If you cannot afford to destroy your device, stop now.

These notes are intended for my own use and they are not intended as a recommendation for others as to any course of action. I also make no warranties as to the effectiveness or currency of these steps. These are personal notes that worked for me when they were used on my device. I can’t guarantee them under any other circumstances and can’t help you if you end up with a different result.

Always backup before trying to hack anything.

Be especially careful with these notes: I’m mixing various sources and working from memory at times

A little while ago, I bought a Samsung Galaxy S. I’ve used smart phones for years, beginning with the old Palm Treo and more recently a Nokia E71. But there has been a revolution in smart devices in the last year or two with tablet-like cell phones and I found I wasn’t getting the kind of connectivity and interoperability I needed from the Nokia. So an Android machine it is. I’m a Rogers subscriber (though counting the days until Canada’s wireless market becomes competitive and I can leave them), so the Galaxy S looked like my best best. Read the rest of this entry »

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