OpenSUSE Linux Rants

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February 19, 2008

The Perfect Vista Advertisement

by @ 2:03 pm. Filed under humor

Not feeling too good today, but I couldn’t pass this one up. This will brighten your day, guaranteed:

February 8, 2008

Announcing openSUSE 11.0 Alpha 2

by @ 7:39 am. Filed under SUSE releases

An announcement hit my inbox for the next Alpha release of OpenSUSE. From the OpenSUSE news portal, we read:

Only three weeks after Alpha1, we’re glad to announce the release of openSUSE 11.0 Alpha 2. There are various exciting changes in there that we would like to have feedback on.

Installation - Location KDE 4.0.1 Desktop GNOME Desktop
For more screenshots head over to the Screenshots/openSUSE 11.0 Alpha2 wiki page

Changes since openSUSE 11.0 Alpha 1

For a more detailed list with links to backported packages, see the Factory/News wiki page.

Most Annoying Bugs

Media and Download

Please refer to for direct links to all the available media.

Comments, Feedback and Helping

communicate.pngPlease report all bugs you find on in our bugzilla as explained on; discussion is most appropriate on the (subscribe) mailing list. For other queries and ways to communicate with the openSUSE community — including IRC, Mailing Lists, and Forums — take a look at the Communicate wiki page.

The next release will be openSUSE 11.0 Alpha 3, on March 18.

February 6, 2008

7 Thunderbird Extensions that will allow you to replace Outlook

by @ 6:56 am. Filed under email clients, Thunderbird


Whether you are using Linux or not, Thunderbird is a great email client. It’s been around awhile, and works well. But what if we want more than what Thunderbird offers stock? What can we do so that we can share address books between users on completely different computers? Is there a way to use calendars? Can we then share the calendars so other users can access them? With fresh-from-the-box Thunderbird, good luck. Fortunately, the folks at Mozilla have given us the ability to create extensions for this great email client. Because of this, we have a bunch of slick extensions that can provide us with some cool features. Mainly, if we don’t want to pay huge fees for proprietary solutions, but we still want to be able to share address books and calendars, we can do it with Thunderbird. We just need to know which extensions to use.

Well fasten your seatbelts. The list I’m about to give you could overhaul the way you do email. It’s a list of extensions that allow you to turn Thunderbird into a full-on communications center. Here we go…

1 – Addressbooks Synchronizer – sync your address books to multiple machines

This plugin gives you the ability to synchronize whatever address books you have in Thunderbird. You can sync between home, office, and laptop. You can sync between all your users at the office. It’s a snap to install and configure, unlike a shared directory. Especially if said directory is on a proprietary solution.

Once you get it installed, and you restart Thunderbird, go to the TOOLS menu, and select ADD-ONS. In the list that appears, select “Addressbooks Synchronizer”, and then click the PREFERENCES button.

To set up synchronization, select the SYNCHRONIZE tab at the top. In the “Addressbooks to sync” box, tick the addressbooks that you want to sync. Below that, select the “Remote” tab. Select “Synchronize with remote files”, and then the protocol you wish to use. FTP works great for me. Put in the host, username, and password, and then the path you will use to house your addressbook files. Configure your preferences below that. I just do sync on startup and shutdown, but set it to whatever works for you. Take a look:

Addressbooks Synchronizer Thunderbird Extension

2 – Lightning – manage your time and tasks with extensive calendaring features

Lightning is one of those extensions that, once you use it, you cannot live without. You can use it to schedule appointments and maintain your entire calendar. It shows you a summary of what events you have today, tomorrow, and soon. Another great feature is that it provides task management. It also offers configurable event notification reminders. Quick peek:

Lightning Thunderbird Extension

3 – Lightning Nightly Updater (Unofficial) – From the download page : “Quickly get to the latest nightly builds of Lightning relevant to the version of Thunderbird and the OS you’re on.”

This extension makes sure that you are aware of and can update to any new versions of Lightning that appear. The latest and greatest is what we like, so I highly recommend this extension.

4 – Provider for Google Calendar – connect to and sync with your Google calendar, which you can also share

This gives you the ability to sync with your Google calendars. There is no prefs box to set it up, but using it is simple. First, go ahead and install the extension. Next, you need to set up a Gmail account if you don’t already have one. Then go to and make sure your calendar is working, maybe create an event or two. Next, go to your calendar’s settings:

Provider for Google Calendar Thunderbird Extension

A page will appear with the details of your calendar’s settings Go down to the PRIVATE ADDRESS, and right-click on the XML button. Select “Copy Link Location”:

Provider for Google Calendar Thunderbird Extension

You now have a link to your Google Calendar copied to your clipboard.

Back in Thunderbird, open the FILE menu, select NEW, and then select CALENDAR. You can also double-click or right-click in the calendar list to create a new calendar. The “Create a New Calendar” box comes up. Instead of “On My Computer,” we are going to select “On the Network”, and click NEXT:

Select : On the Network

In the next screen, select “Google Calendar”, and paste the Private Calendar URL into that box. Click NEXT:

Google Calendar : Private Calendar URL

The following screen allows you to select a name and a color for your calendar. Go ahead and set them as you wish and press NEXT.

Surprise! A calendar login appears:

Google Calendar : Login Box

You need to know the password of the account whose private calendar you are accessing. This means that you should do one of two things. First, you could set up a Gmail account that everyone in the group knows the password for. This way, they can all change things as necessary. Another alternative is to only share your calendar with people you trust. Either way, it’s a matter of preference. You could do a combination of the two, as you can have as many calendars in Thunderbird as you want. So fill in the password, check the box to remember it, and click OK.

You can now share the Calendar URL with whoever you need to. Point them to this tutorial on how to set it up for themselves.

5 – addressContext – An extension to add addressbook-related options to the context menu.

Email messages just about always have contacts associated with them. Such contacts are usually senders or recipients. This extension allows you to do things with the contact information associated with a given email message. It adds things to the context menu:

Address Context

So, for example, let’s say the HR department where I work sends out an email with every email address in the company as a recipient. If I right-click on that message, I can add every recipient therein as an address book contact. Boom, instant employee directory.

6 – Contacts Sidebar – From the download page: “Displays the address books in a sidebar in Thunderbirds 3-pane window”

Gives you the ability to make the contacts in each of the different address books show up in the main Thunderbird window. Nice for quick access to contacts:

Contacts Sidebar

7 – Duplicate Contact Manager – From the download page: “Facilitates handling of duplicates in your address book(s).”

This extension is very nice. It helps remove or combine the duplicates in your address book. I use this thing all the time:

Duplicate Contact Manager

If you want to sync contacts and calendars between many computers, these extensions will give you this capacity. These are a small handful of the available extensions for Thunderbird. There are a bunch more available for your enjoyment or to boost productivity. Check them out when you get a moment.

If you want to give Thunderbird some visual appeal, take a look at the Top 10 Best Themes for Thunderbird.

February 5, 2008

Linux Used by All Branches of U.S. Military

by @ 6:57 am. Filed under Linux migrations, Linux News

Army Tux

I thought it was cool to see another Linux adoption story, this time by the U.S. Army. One of the best quotes from this article:

“Red Hat 5 will link Linux with Microsoft and allow FCS forces to link with other brigade combat teams,” the Army official said. “This will be an interim solution because over the long haul, eventually all of the Army’s networks will be Linux-based.”

They plan eventually to have the whole thing running Linux.

Actually, Linux is being employed currently by all of the branches of the U.S. Military.

U.S. Army

Wind River wins Boeing deal with Army
Linux headed into Boeing antisub aircraft
Linux helps RTOS vendor win major defense contract
Linux in Camouflage
LynuxWorks: A case study in combat-ready Linux

U.S. Navy

Linux in Government: OSS in the US Navy?
Powerful Linux OS-based SGI system to serve as U.S. military computing prototype

U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps

Linux getting widespread support from government
The Penguin Continues Its March

U.S. Air Force and Army – Linux clusters gear up for simulated combat

U.S. Department of Defense – IBM To Build Supercomputer for US Military

Pentagon & Department of Defense – OF ARMS AND LINUX

Army National Guard – Army National Guard Using Linux

Autonomous Military Ground Vehicle

Linux powers autonomous military ground vehicle
Commercial Linux to power military drone

U.S. Military – US Military Testing IBM Speech Translation Technology

Linux finds the fastest route

by @ 6:43 am. Filed under Linux News

Linux helping reduce traffic congestion? Who would not be for that? MIT researchers are working on a device that will do just this. I know that where I live, getting out to the main freeway can take forever, and I can practically see it from my house. I would love to know which routes are the fastest.

This is a picture of the guys working on it:


Sam Madden (left) and Hari Balakrishnan (right)


“At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), researchers are testing a Linux-based automotive telematics system intended to reduce traffic congestion. CarTel is a distributed, GPS-enabled mobile sensor network that uses WiFi ‘opportunistically’ to exploit brief windows of coverage to update a central traffic analysis program.”

“The CarTel portal provides a geo-spatial data visualization system based on Google Maps that stores and marks sensor data using GPS coordinates. The portal organizes data as ‘traces,’ linear sets of sensor readings collected during a drive. Users can query the system using a graphical query interface to select traces, and then visualize the traces combined with various summaries, statistics, and maps. The portal allows queries both on the driver’s own history, as well as the aggregate driving history of other drivers.”

Read “MIT researchers fight gridlock with Linux”

View the MIT Project Page

Read a Boston Globe article about the project

February 4, 2008

They’re Bluffing, Linus Taunts

by @ 4:53 pm. Filed under General Linux, War

Linus Torvalds believes that users of Linux have nothing to fear. M$ is bluffing. According to Linus:

“They have been sued for patents by other people, but I don’t think they’ve — not that I’ve gone through any huge amount of law cases — but I don’t think they’ve generally used patents as a weapon,” Torvalds said. “But they’re perfectly happy to use anything at all as fear, uncertainty and doubt in the marketplace, and patents is just one thing where they say, ‘Hey, isn’t this convenient? We can use this as a PR force.'”

Boy, one thing that I’ve always said, and it’s truer now than ever, is that M$ is a marketing company, not a software company. They understand people and how they respond and react to things. They will push the very bounds of what’s legal in order to intimidate and influence people. What’s funny is that your average person wants someone else to tell them what to do. Many people like to give away their power to choose. They don’t want the responsibility of thinking for themselves, and it’s too much effort anyway.

Anyway, it’s nice to see people starting to break out of that and turn their back on M$. Many governments are doing that around the world. By now you’ve likely heard that the French Police dumped Windows on 70,000 machines for Ubuntu Linux. I think that’s the biggest migration I’ve ever heard of.

Think outside the box. Learn something. Don’t be afraid of the Big Bad Wolf. Go Linux.

OpenSUSE Community gets new leader

by @ 11:54 am. Filed under SUSE News

OpenSUSE Linux Community members, rejoice. We have a new community leader, Joe ‘Zonker’ Brockmeier. I’m excited for this.

One of the major driving forces that makes a successful distribution is its sense of community. Where do you get tech support? The community. Where does the maintenance come from? The community. Who contributes patches? The community. To whom can you contribute if you want to help out? The community.

I’m sensing a pattern.

If you can take the concept of the community and reach out to them, you will likely enjoy more success than if you do not do this. People want to form communities, and will with or without a little guidance and direction. So, why not take someone who knows about communities, an operating system that thrives through communities, and people who want a community, and put them all together? That looks like exactly what they are doing with Mr Brockmeier. Go Zonker!


“I’d like to give a warm welcome to Joe ‘Zonker’ Brockmeier who joins the openSUSE project as “openSUSE community manager”. You can reach him directly at He has his own openSUSE blog at, I advise to go over and see what he has to say himself!

He is a long time Linux user and does a lot of writing about Linux and open source for several publications and conributed to books as well. Prior to his new role as community manager for openSUSE he served Linux Magazine as Editor-in-Chief. His personal webpage is

The openSUSE community manager will act as community advocate and ombudsman thus relaying openSUSE community and users needs back to Novell. Therefore you will find Zonker on many community events. He will also drive marketing programs around openSUSE to make the project more successful and attract more developers and users.”

Read “openSUSE Welcomes Zonker – The New Community Manager

Viewing all the gory details of an RPM

by @ 6:59 am. Filed under command-line, General Linux, Linux tips

RPM Icon

Linux has a varied methodology of managing packages. RPMs are one of the most common. Some distros have source-based package management systems, such as Portage for Gentoo. Derivatives of Debian such as Ubuntu have packages in DEB format.

For the RPM-based distributions, the package manager tries to take care of resolving dependencies for you. Some of them do a great job at this. At some point, however, you’ll likely have to work directly with an RPM package on the command-line.

One thing I really like about YAST (and others) is that you can browse and search through the description, and view other package details. You can see the author, version, vendor, build date, build host, size, etc. You can also see a list of what files will be installed, and where they will be placed.

So how do we view all that info from the command line?

This is fully possible by using the rpm command. Let’s say we are going to install vsftpd from an RPM from the command line. Using the rpm command, we add a few switches to display the information:

rpm -qpil vsftpd-2.0.5-78.x86_64.rpm

The ‘q’ is for ‘query’. The ‘p’ refers to querying a package file. ‘i’ means, “Display package information, including name, version, and description.” The ‘l’ tells the rpm command to list all the files in the package.

Output of this command would look something like the following:

[1116][scott@tomahawk:~/64-bit software/vsftpd]$ rpm -qpil vsftpd-2.0.5-78.x86_64.rpm
Name        : vsftpd                       Relocations: (not relocatable)
Version     : 2.0.5                             Vendor: SUSE LINUX Products GmbH, Nuernberg, Germany
Release     : 78                            Build Date: Fri 21 Sep 2007 02:34:57 PM MDT
Install Date: (not installed)               Build Host:
Group       : Productivity/Networking/Ftp/Servers   Source RPM: vsftpd-2.0.5-78.src.rpm
Size        : 286006                           License: GPL v2 or later
Signature   : DSA/SHA1, Fri 21 Sep 2007 02:43:56 PM MDT, Key ID a84edae89c800aca
Packager    :
URL         :
Summary     : Very Secure FTP Daemon - Written from Scratch
Description :
Vsftpd is an FTP server, or dæmon. The "vs" stands for Very Secure.
Obviously this is not a guarantee, but the entire codebase was written
with security in mind, and carefully designed to be resilient to

Recent evidence suggests that vsftpd is also extremely fast (and this
is before any explicit performance tuning!). In tests against wu-ftpd,
vsftpd was always faster, supporting over twice as many users in some

    Chris Evans 
Distribution: openSUSE 10.3 (X86-64)
[1116][scott@tomahawk:~/64-bit software/vsftpd]$

Now, we can see where the binaries will be installed. We can see where the config file will be. We can see where the docs and man pages will be placed.

If you need to install an RPM from the command line, normally, you could issue a command such as:

rpm -i [packagename]

A better way to do this may be as follows:

rpm -Uvh [packagename]

The “U” means upgrade. In cases where you have an older version of an RPM installed, and you’re trying to install a newer version, the -i will not do this. You’d first have to erase the RPM with the -e switch. However, if you have dependencies that rely on that RPM, you won’t be able to erase the old version of the RPM unless you want to get even more hairy. It’s easier to just tell it to upgrade. In cases where you do not have an older version of the RPM installed, the command will still install the intended RPM.

The “v” is for verbose. This just provides more information about the installation process of the RPM.

The “h” option is for “show hashes.”

The problem here is that it doesn’t automatically install dependencies.

The other thing is that you can create your own installation repository (super easy) with createrepo. Install the createrepo package. Then, you create a directory which you will use as the repository, such as /my_inst_src. Dump the RPM in there. Then, you run the createrepo command, pointing it to the new repository:

createrepo /my_inst_src

You then go into YAST and add /my_inst_src as an installation source.

You should now be able to go into YAST and install it just like you do any other RPM. Dependencies should be resolved as usual, should any exist.

If you are interested in package management through YAST, there is just such an ebook available from In the upper left corner, there is a place to grab some ebooks. One of them is called “YAST – Installation and Management of Software.” Take a look at that and see if it’s helpful for you.

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