OpenSUSE Linux Rants

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March 30, 2007

Surprise! Linux marches on. 145 mph 18″ from my face.

by @ 6:45 am. Filed under Dell, General Linux, Linux News, My Opinion

This was inevitable. It would have happened sooner or later. I’m sure that everyone has heard by now about Dell’s support of Linux. They will start selling PCs preloaded with Linux in the near future. What’s interesting is that everyone is all shocked. For a few years, now, Linux has been building momentum. Once Microsoft did its thing with Novell, that was kind of the beginning of a new era for Linux. To me, it felt more like Microsoft was basically just saying, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” They seemingly figured that in the long run, it would be more cost-effective to partnership with Novell around Linux than it would be to continue a losing battle fighting against it. They changed from the “Linux is a cancer” mind-set to a co-operative strategy.

It still feels to me like they’re saying, “If Linux is going to encroach on our territory, we will control the one with the largest market share.” But Novell does not have the largest market share of Linux installs. That is correct. They don’t. YET. With Microsoft at their back, Novell will eventually enjoy a nice pass to the head of the line of enterprise Linux distributions. By then, Microsoft will have established an influence over the development of that distro. And, of course, they come out on top. Again.

All that aside, another side effect of the M$/Novell thing is that way many more people are going to be using Linux in general. More people will be hearing of it and will start using it. This has already started happening. This is evidenced by the survey that Dell put out recently. They wanted to take the community’s pulse with regards to pre-installing Linux on the PCs they sell.

What distro do you think they will put on these home and business desktops? I am betting that it will be SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10. It is a solid system that is very easy to use. Throw an eyeball at a blog post I did on SLED 10 a while back. They really tied it down and made it a solid desktop. In my experience, it is the only logical choice. It does all the regular stuff: email, word processing, spreadsheets, web browsing, or instant messaging. It is cheaper than Windows. It offers a full productivity suite in 2. It doesn’t even need antivirus software. Best of all, it integrates into an existing Windows-centric network. Which means compatibility with Exchange.

This is another feather in the cap of the future stability and growth of Linux. What’s more, even if you don’t think Linux is quite up to par now, it is only getting better. Things are only looking up. This is one of the reasons that I have put together a free Intro to Linux course. It is for people who want to get started using Linux, but may not know how. The course is available from my blog. If you want to enroll, please feel free. For people you know who are interested, have them take a look.

Anyway, with the M$/Novell agreement, and now Dell making this new change, expect Linux to become more widespread (this does not mean that this is the year Linux takes out Windows). Expect other companies to make similar changes. It will happen.


My friend Jason, his brother Ryan, and our friend Mac all went to the Salt Flats the other weekend and I shot some video of them doing some SICK spinouts, burnouts, and other stunts in their Mustang GTs (Ryan’s Mustang is mid-90’s, and Jason’s is a brand new 2007). What a couple of sick puppies. Well, so Jason took the footage and mixed it all together and posted it up on Google Videos. Blow my eyes out.

By the way, in some of those shots, they are going by me at 140 mph about 18 inches from my face. Yes, they are. I was there. I know that because when I watch the video, I can hear my voice.

March 27, 2007

Software KVM switch : synergy on Linux

by @ 7:06 am. Filed under How-To, review, SUSE Tips & Tricks


One thing people really love is desktop real estate. Seriously, it’s a fundamental law of life: “Bigger is better.” Unless you’re referring to like a nail in your head or something. But generally, people like bigger, especially when it comes to their monitors. Lately, I’ve been using this sweet app that doesn’t quite give me a bigger monitor, but it does give me something very similar. It’s called “synergy.”

From the project website: “synergy lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its own display, without special hardware. It’s intended for users with multiple computers on their desk since each system uses its own monitor(s).” Translation: pretty much a software KVM switch.

The way it works is that you have a synergy server running on one machine, like your main desktop. You also have a synergy client running on another machine, like a laptop that you have next to you on your desk. When you drag your mouse past the edge of the screen on your desktop, the mouse cursor and current clipboard contents magically appear on the client machine, your laptop in this case.

Using synergy is very similar to having two monitors because you just drag the mouse between the two seamlessly. It is different because the monitor on the client machine is obviously not hard-wired directly to the main desktop, it is still driven by the machine it is connected to (the laptop, in this case). You have two completely separate systems controlled from a single mouse and keyboard. You don’t have to switch to that little tiny keyboard on your laptop or use the touchpad or eraser mouse on it, either. You just slap your mouse over to the edge of your desktop monitor, and it appears on your laptop monitor, and away you go.

The clipboard is shared, as well. If you hit a URL on the laptop that you want to open on the desktop, copy it to the clipboard, drag the mouse cursor back over to the desktop, open Firefox, and middle-click. Done.

What will really kick you in the head is that this program is cross-platform. It runs on Windows and Linux (apparently, not so well on Mac).

synergy is a bit of a paradigm shift to get used to, but when you do, you can’t live without it.

K, I can see that I have your attention, and you don’t want to screw around with figuring out how to make it work. You would like some brief quick-start instructions. So what are we waiting for?

To make this baby go, you need two computers. In my case, the server machine (my desktop) is an AMD 64-bit machine running SUSE 10.1. This machine is called tomahawk. The client machine (my laptop) is an Intel Duo machine running openSUSE 10.2. It is called laptop.

On each computer, do the following:

Install synergy

Open YAST => Software => Software Management. Search for ‘synergy‘, check the box next to it when it comes up, and click ACCEPT in the lower-right corner. synergy is installed accordingly.

Configure synergy

On the client machine, called laptop, I have put an appropriate entry in the /etc/hosts file for the desktop, which looks like this:

[0032][scott@laptop:~]$ cat /etc/hosts
# hosts         This file describes a number of hostname-to-address
#               mappings for the TCP/IP subsystem.  It is mostly
#               used at boot time, when no name servers are running.
#               On small systems, this file can be used instead of a
#               "named" name server.
# Syntax:
# IP-Address  Full-Qualified-Hostname  Short-Hostname
#       localhost   tomahawk


On the desktop, I had to create a small config file called synergy.conf, which looks like this:

[0031][scott@tomahawk:~]$ cat synergy.conf
    section: screens
    section: links
           left = laptop
           right = tomahawk


This file is just in my home directory (/home/scott/synergy.conf, in this case). Where ‘tomahawk‘ appears, that is my desktop. Where ‘laptop‘ appears, that is my… yes… laptop. In this configuration, the monitor on the right is the ‘tomahawk‘ monitor, and the monitor on the left is the ‘laptop‘ monitor. When the mouse is on ‘laptop‘, and it hits the right side, it will disappear and reappear on ‘tomahawk‘. Likewise, when the mouse is on the ‘tomahawk‘ monitor, and we run it off the left side of the screen, it will disappear and reappear on the ‘laptop‘ monitor.

Adjust the contents of this config file according to your setup.

Run synergy

Maybe someone else is more gifted than I am, but I was only able to get synergy working in foreground mode, and it would absolutely not run as a daemon. I did find a way around this, but if anyone else knows how to make it work right, please post a comment here so everyone else can have it, too.

commandline for tomahawk:

[0031][scott@tomahawk:~]$ synergys -f --config synergy.conf > /dev/null 2>&1 & 


Basically, run the synergy server in the foreground using ‘synergy.conf‘ as a config file, output everything to /dev/null, and run it in the background (this is the hack part). As far as synergy is concerned, it is running in the foreground, but from the point of view of my shell, it runs it in the background.

commandline for laptop:

[0032][scott@laptop:~]$ synergyc -f --name laptop tomahawk > /dev/null 2>&1 &


Run the synergy client in the foreground, identifying itself as the computer called ‘laptop‘, connecting to the computer called ‘tomahawk‘, sending all output to /dev/null, and have bash run it in the background.

Again, if anyone can tell me how to make it properly run in the background, I’m all ears.

You may test it a bit first without the ‘ > /dev/null 2>&1 &‘ at the end of the commandline. This will allow you to see all output. When you can see that it is connecting and working, restart with this extra stuff appended. Then, you will be able to close the terminal windows without synergy shutting down.

I have actually put these commandlines into bash scripts


Once you have this bad fool running, move your mouse around between your two monitors. Copy and paste URLs and other things between the two computers. Before you know it, you’ll have a nice productive setup working for you. I wonder if you can make this thing run between two dual-head systems. Or like twelve. Talk about retinal burn-in.

In case anyone is interested, it also plays nicely with XGL/beryl, which I also have running on my laptop.

All things considered, I enjoy synergy quite a bit, and it has become indispensable for me at home. I run all my always-on stuff on my laptop (thunderbird, gaim, etc), freeing up the resources on my desktop for the tasks at hand. It works out quite nicely.

March 23, 2007

7 downloadable CD images that will give you super powers

by @ 7:07 am. Filed under General Linux, How-To

The other day, I had mentioned a Linux boot CD that would allow one to reset the Administrator password on an NT-based machine. I have successfully done this on Windows 2000 and XP. Well, Vangelis wrote in, asking where to get that CD. Let’s do an exchange. I will show you mine if you show me yours. I’ll list all of the useful boot CDs that I use and what I use them for. In exchange, you leave comments pointing us to those that you use and why you use them.

Darik’s Boot and Nuke – "a self-contained boot floppy that securely wipes the hard disks of most computers." This will pretty much ensure that your data is absolutely destroyed. When you sell your machine, you can be sure that your credit card number isn’t still on the hard drive somewhere.

Ophcrack – "a Windows password cracker based on rainbow tables." If you ever forget your Windows Administrator password, this Linux-based LiveCD may be able to crack it. I’ve enjoyed about an 85% success rate with this.

Ultimate Boot CD – "Assembles over 100 PC hardware diagnosis tools into one bootable CD to analyze and repair hard drives and boot problems." Very nice to have when working on a server that is throwing fits.

Offline NT Password & Registry Editor – "This is a utility to (re)set the password of any user that has a valid (local) account on your NT system." This is the tool that I used to fix up that box at work the other day. If you can’t crack the password with Ophcrack, or you don’t have the time, just reset it with this tool. I’ve only had success setting it to a blank password, but that has worked every time.

Knoppix – "KNOPPIX is a bootable Live system on CD or DVD, consisting of a representative collection of GNU/Linux software, automatic hardware detection, and support for many graphics cards, sound cards, SCSI and USB devices and other peripherals. KNOPPIX can be used as a productive Linux system for the desktop, educational CD, rescue system, or adapted and used as a platform for commercial software product demos. It is not necessary to install anything on a hard disk." That seems pretty clear.

gparted – "GParted is the Gnome Partition Editor application." Which means that it is a Live CD that will allow you to resize, delete, and otherwise modify your partition table without having to boot into the system loaded onto the machine. This is a great open source replacement for something like Partition Magic.

Hiren’s Boot CD – Really, this one has way too much stuff to list here. Suffice it to say that if it is not on one of the other CDs, it is very likely here.

There are the major ones that I carry around with me. Take a look at them and see if there’s anything useful for you. If you have one that is not listed here, please post a comment for all to see (actually, I’ll likely just edit this post and list it here with the others).

March 21, 2007

KchmViewer, CHM files, and Resetting Windows Admin Passwords with Linux

by @ 6:56 am. Filed under ebook, review, SUSE Tips & Tricks

So I am reading through my billions of RSS articles yesterday, and I see this one regarding an ebook, called “Advanced Linux Networking.” I head over to the page, and download the book, only to see that it is in a format that I haven’t seen for awhile, CHM. At first, I wonder how I will be able to view it. After a quick search through YAST, I find that there is a package called kchmviewer.

This little application seems to do pretty well with these CHM files. I was able to open the ebook and read it just fine with KchmViewer:


click image for larger version

So should you ever need an app to view CHM files, check this one out. It’s a nice application.

As another testament to why I love Linux, let me relate a story.

At work, we have this ‘facilities’ guy (who shall remain nameless) who sets up computers for all the new hires each week. The other day, I was working away at my desk when he comes up and asks me if I have a few minutes. He says to me, “Don’t you have a Linux CD that can reset an Administrator password on a Windows machine?” I reply, “Why yes I do.” He says, “I think I may need to enlist your services.” I head over to his desk with my CD and boot the computer off it, showing him the prompts and what to choose from the menus. When all was said and done, the Administrator password on that Windows machine had been reset. He was able to reboot it and get right in without any trouble whatsoever.

Linux really is great.

March 19, 2007

openSUSE 10.3 Alpha2 Review + Extras

by @ 6:47 am. Filed under General SUSE, review, SUSE releases

I took a look at openSUSE 10.3 alpha2 this weekend on my laptop, specs as follows:

Intel Core Duo T2250 (1.73GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 533 MHz FSB)
17 inch UltraSharp Wide Screen UXGA Display with TrueLife
2GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz
256MB NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GS
120GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive

Installation looks the same as 10.2. I love that it sets up installation sources during the installation. I’m also pretty excited about the feedback it provides. Feedback is a principle of usability and industrial design. Basically, the questions are, “Is it clear what progress is being made? Does it help the user know when things are proceeding as expected? When things are not proceeding as expected?” openSUSE has become quite good at providing details on what is going on so you know that everything is still happening as it should.

The package management tool residing in the system tray has changed, yet again. This time, it’s nice to see that they have gotten much closer to something that is intuitive and usable. It is quite easy to figure out and use with minimal tinkering. When you first right-click on the opensuseupdater tool down in the system tray, a menu appears from which you can select “Add/Remove Update Sources…”, “Configure Applet…” or “Check now…”.

opensuseupdater Menu Screenshot

The “Add/Remove Update Sources” option takes you to the Configured Software Catalogs screen, which is basically your Installation Sources list. During installation, it added a couple of these for me.

Configure Software Catalogs Screenshot

(click image above for larger version)

From the opensuseupdater menu, if you select CONFIGURE APPLET, you can set how often and from where it should check for updates.

Configure opensuseupdater

As this is a step in the right direction, it needs many more options. For example, any time this stuff would run on 10.2, update-status and parse-metadata would bring my system to a crawl. How about allowing me to have it run in the background, renicing it, or something like that. Also, give me more control over how and when it runs. Can I schedule a time when it checks for newer packages like I can with the Online Update? Can I have it check and download all the updates but not install them (again, like the Online Update)? Lots of great direction, still a few things lacking in that part of the package manager, but it is very usable.

Being a KDE user, I am glad to see that it comes with 3.5.6. Other package versions included are OpenOffice 2.1.7, Firefox, gcc 4.1.3-37, gimp 2.2.13, gaim 1.5.0-104, and it comes with kernel version From what I understand, the final release will be shooting for Gnome 2.18/2.20, and may just very well have an early version of KDE 4 in it. Apparently, the KDE 3.5.x packages will still be available as the stable option.

One thing many users like is the suspend functionality. I tried unsuccessfully to wake the machine up when I tried SUSPEND TO RAM. However, when I did the SUSPEND TO DISK, everything worked perfectly. If you are interested in this method of putting the computer to sleep, you are in business. Likely by the time we have the goldenmaster available of 10.3, we will probably have the SUSPEND TO RAM stabilized a bit more.

Overall, though, The installation has shown me very few hiccups. Apparently, Your Mileage May Vary. My laptop sure runs it well.

A changelog for openSUSE 10.3 Alpha2 can be found here.

The package list is here.

For people who are deeply interested in the direction of openSUSE, I would recommend that you take a look at the FOSDEM 2007 page on There are PDFs, notes, and even videos of the event available.

It appears that a 21-page PDF is also available that was written on February 28 by Andreas Jaeger for his FOSDEM 2007 presentation. It outlines a strategy and some goals that the openSUSE team is considering and working towards for the final 10.3 release. For more information about this PDF, download it here.

If you are considering using Linux, but aren’t sure how to get started, I have a free course available from my blog site for anyone and everyone who wants to take a look at Linux. It’s a basic Intro to Linux course completely free of charge. Have a look, see what you think.

March 15, 2007

openSUSE 10.3 Alpha 2 now ready

by @ 10:18 am. Filed under General SUSE, SUSE News, SUSE releases

From my good buddy Andreas Jaeger:

I’m glad to announce the second public alpha release of openSUSE 10.3.

openSUSE 10.3 Alpha2 is an important milestone for us since it is an

installable release so that everybody doing development in the last
weeks can double check that their changes not only work in their own
environment but also in the complete distribution. It also shows us
the state of STABLE so that everybody should be able to use STABLE as
basis for their work.

Call for testing:

We’re using the libata stack now also for IDE controllers. Please do
test that an update works and all files are changed automatically

(libata uses /dev/sda for the first harddisk instead of /dev/hda).
Disks with more than 15 partitions are not handled right now, we’re
still evaluating whether there is a good solution. to use the old
scheme, boot with "hwprobe=-modules.pata". See below for Bug 250241
as well.

For the first time, we do also release the Kiwi tool together with a
configuration for creating a LiveDVD of openSUSE 10.3 Alpha 2. It can

be created by anyone, you just need to call one simple script. Please
find detailed instructions and a list of known issues here:

Most annoying bugs for now:

* Branding and translations are still at the 10.2 level Bug 240598

* ide-disk module does not get loaded at installation time. A

"modprobe ide-disk" on commandline does workaround this issue. This
affects all older IDE chipsets which are not supported via libata,
like chipsets used in virtualisation applications Bug 250241

* Firefox on x86-64 does not connect to any website Bug 249686

* KDE-Multimedia is not selected for KDE by default Bug 253022

* GNOME main menu does crash direct after login. Select to delete it,
then right click on the panel, select add to panel and then choose
menu bar to get a menu. We’ve put older gnome-main-menu RPMS to

* GNOME installation fails to install gail package, just click ignore

* Some GNOME applications will crash when closing them. As a result,

bug buddy will show up. Do not use bug buddy to report these bugs,
but rather go to and search to see if the bug
has already been reported.

The list of annoying bugs is found here as well, please update it if
you find more:

openSUSE 10.3 Alpha1 comes in different medias:
* 5 CDs
* 1 AddOn CD with only NonOSS packages on it
* 1 AddOn CD with language packages that are used for extra
languages (the 5 CDs contain support for english, french, italian, spanish,
german, chinese, japanese, czech, danish, norwegian, khmer,
hungarian, polish) (the 5 CDs have support for installation in all

languages, just extra packages are only on this extra media)
* 1 DVD containing the contents of the 5 CDs and the NonOSS AddOn CD
* CDs/DVDs containing the sources corresponding to the media

We have created Delta ISOs from openSUSE 10.3 Alpha1. Please use them
for download.

The DVDs and the source media are only available via bittorrent.

Please report all bugs you find on in our bugzilla as explained in, discussion is most appropriate on the
opensuse-factory@xxxxxxxxxxxx mailing list.

To download media, please use the links provided at:

The next planned release is Alpha3 in four weeks (April 12th),


Andreas Jaeger, aj@xxxxxxx,
SUSE LINUX Products GmbH, GF: Markus Rex, HRB 16746 (AG Nürnberg)
Maxfeldstr. 5, 90409 Nürnberg, Germany
GPG fingerprint = 93A3 365E CE47 B889 DF7F FED1 389A 563C C272 A126

Nice to see Linux in the Wall Street Journal

by @ 6:45 am. Filed under General Linux, Linux News

When leaders in mainstream media pick something up and take notice, there must be something to it. In this case, I was checking out the story Linux Starts to Find Home on Desktops on the Wall Street Journal’s website. The article discusses rising trends in the adoption of and interest in Linux. Not only as a server, but also on the corporate desktop. I think that is great. Notice that I haven’t claimed that this is the year that Linux will take down Windows. However, there is a rising interest in Linux, and that trend shows no signs of letting up. The interest in Linux will continue to rise.

Probably everyone has already heard about this, but Dell has posted a survey about Linux. Apparently, it is only going about 10 days, a couple of which are already gone, so head on over and take the survey. Vote for your favorite distro, which is, of course openSUSE. 🙂 It may or may not produce large results. However, it’s more about the consistent, diligent effort that we are making to spread Linux. When things like this come up, it’s important to go make some noise about it so that people start listening. Go take the survey and email the URL to 5 people or you will have bad luck for 10 years.

Another cool story about Intro to Linux course available from my blog home page, I actually go into over 40 governments, about 7 financial institutions, about 14 educational institutions, and about 15 other organizations that have switched to Linux. I also provide links to articles and stories about each organization’s experience. Take a sec and enroll in the course. You’ll get some great introductory info about Linux that you can pass on to people you know that may be interested in using it.

Alrighty, well, have a good one, and we’ll talk to you later. Spread the word about the Intro to Linux course. It’s here for all who are interested in getting started but may not know.

March 14, 2007

openSUSE, XGL, Beryl and $400

by @ 6:53 am. Filed under beryl, General SUSE, sweet deals

Last Friday, my good buddy Steve popped on IM and said, “Hey, you know anyone who wants to sell their laptop?” My response, “Heh, how much you looking to spend?” See, I had one that I really liked, but with which I would part for a decent price. I sent him the YAST dump of hwinfo (all 300k of it) so that he’d stop asking me what kind of transistors were on the wifi card and how many CPU fans it had, and whether it had an external firewire port. I was all, “Dude, if you can find out something about that laptop that is not in this text file, I will buy you lunch for a week.” Apparently, he never did.

He ended up coming by my house RIGHT after work with the, “Can I pick it up, yet?” look on his face. I did a quick transfer of my /home directory over to my external 100 Gig and reformatted it so he couldn’t get my porn. Dude, go get your own.

Well, at that point, I was without a laptop, but I did have a little handful of money. I thought to myself, “Hmmm… I wonder what kind of laptop I should get.” I remembered that my friend Jason is a hardware wizard. I gave him a ring and we built me a nice fat Dell Inspiron E1705. Humbly, I will list the specs here:

Intel Core Duo T2250 (1.73GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 533 MHz FSB)
17 inch UltraSharp Wide Screen UXGA Display with TrueLife
2GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz
256MB NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GS
120GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive

And it came with a wireless card, ethernet, 8x DVD burner (w/double-layer +R capability), etc.

So, as I was checking out, I noticed that Dell was kind enough to give me a $250 discount because the machine’s cost was over $999. I also didn’t want to have to pay for Vista. So, I hopped on the little live chat thing with one of their reps. I asked repeatedly but nicely if there was any possible way I could get $100 off for the Vista license. The rep was very nice, but couldn’t do anything for me. I was about to just check out when I had an idea.

You know when you check out online, and it has the little box that says, “Enter Coupon Code Here”? I threw a quick search into Google : “Dell coupon code” and the first link on the first page showed me a coupon code (9C12FJVBKTKPV$) that would take $400 off Inspirons that were over $1499, which mine was at that point ($1577). I slapped that bad boy into the coupon code box, and lo and behold, it took the $250 discount up to $400! That one search got me the $150 off for Vista, but I still had to have it come with the laptop. (If anyone wants a Vista license for a Dell, let me know. I will give it to you for $100.) List price for that laptop: $1,827.00. Take off the $400, and my final price was $1,427.00. Out the door, I was at $1,512.64 for shipping, handling, and tax. So, if you want $400 off, do what I did. Use that code and save yourself the price of Vista. Then sell it anyway to someone else when it comes on the machine. That’ll get you another $100 towards your laptop.

Well, that bad boy finally came. I was at work when my wife popped onto IM and said, “You’ll never guess what just came!” I said, “I’ll be there in 20 minutes.”

Immediately, I booted off the openSUSE 10.2 install CD, and blew away the Vista partition. The next few days were then spent getting it all set up with openSUSE 10.2 (which runs on it quite nicely). I got acceleration working on it the other day, and spent most of last night getting Beryl set up on it. If you want to take a look at a slick demo video of it, I posted one right here that I made with my laptop. It is 40MB, but the freakin’ windows BURN UP when you close them. And all the transparency… If you have some bandwith, a few minutes, and some popcorn, check it out.

There’s a free “Intro to Linux” course available from my blog home page for anyone who might benefit. It’s designed to be a super gentle intro for people who want to take a look at Linux. As always, feedback is appreciated (smorris — at — suseblog — dot — com). Let anyone know who may find it useful. I will be expanding it out, but I’m doing it in a way such that no one will miss out on anything. As soon as I add new material, I’ll make sure it gets to you.

March 13, 2007

One Step Closer to Linux Domination

by @ 7:03 am. Filed under How-To, SUSE Tips & Tricks, Work-Related

Yeah, I’m still working through the semester here at school. I sure don’t care for it much. That’s enough about school.

Alrighty, so the other day, I was out picking up my brother who was without wheels because he had just sold his truck. My boss calls my cell phone. His first words were, “Are you in the building?” You see, this is not some inside joke about Elvis. He only says that when something is very wrong, because he wants to know how many seconds it will be before it will be fixed. He wants to get an estimate of the number of feet I will have to travel before I can address whatever exploded.

Unfortunately at that precise moment, my answer was “No.” He said, “How long will it take you to get back?” At this point, I was wondering what possibly could have gone wrong in the 4 1/2 seconds it had been since had left to pick up my bro. Was it the bandwidth that I was taking up downloading all of the CDs simultaneously of the alpha release of openSUSE 10.3? I casually countered, “Why, what is going on?”

He said, “Our DHCP server has gone out on the SonicWall firewall, and we need one up as soon as humanly possible.” I said, “OK, I will be back in three minutes.” I would bet you lunch that this was about 170 seconds more than he wanted to wait, but he said, “OK, just get back as soon as possible.” I assured him that I would do everything possible to bend actual spacetime in such a way that I could get back before I left (and maybe even hold the door open for myself as I was leaving the building, but I didn’t remember myself having done that as I was walking out, so I didn’t think that I actually would be able to. As it turns out, I couldn’t, which was really disappointing).

My brother and myself immediately headed back to the building (he works with me). As I was walking in the door, I didn’t walk out of the building, which is how I know I wasn’t actually able to go back in time. I did call my boss, however, to let him know that I was embarking on the mission to reassemble the network. As it was, no one could get an IP, which left a lot of Windows users with that confused look that they get when stuff doesn’t “Just Work”™. Well, we didn’t want their heads to explode, so I grabbed my SUSE CDs and headed into the server room.

I pulled up YAST, installed the DHCP server, and turned that baby on. In the time it has taken you to read this much of my story, I had the company network back up. Let’s hear it for Linux saving the day, yet again. I went down to my desk and set up a few static IP addresses from there for some of our servers. This is also super easy. Just edit /etc/dhcpd.conf. Don’t change any of the stuff at the top, but add host entries to it according to this format:

host [HOSTNAME] {
  hardware ethernet [MAC ADDRESS];
  fixed-address [DESIRED IP ADDRESS];


Just change [HOSTNAME] with a description of the machine. Note that this does not make it resolve to that name, as in DNS style. It just gives you something to refer back to so that you can identify the machine for which it is set up. Also, swap out [MAC ADDRESS] for the (yep, you guessed it) MAC address of the NIC in the host for which you wish to set up a static IP. Then, where it says “[DESIRED IP ADDRESS]” you are going to put (you are exactly right) the IP you wish to assign to that machine.

As an example, let’s call the machine FRED, and the MAC will be 00:24:EB:F1:88:8C, and the IP will be This is what you will put in there:

host fred {
  hardware ethernet 00:24:EB:F1:88:8C;


After you have it set up how you want, just restart the dhcp server:

[0014][scott@mybox:~]$  su
mail:/home/scott # /etc/init.d/dhcpd restart


It was just about that easy to get our entire network back up and running in less than 5 minutes.

I’m telling you, Linux is your friend.

Besides that, Dell now has a survey about how the community wants Dell to provide Linux : Everyone take it.

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