OpenSUSE Linux Rants

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June 25, 2008

20 Reasons Linux Users Like Linux (and you might, too)

by @ 6:52 am. Filed under freebies

One of the major inhibitors to the spreading of Linux, as I see it, is that people don’t know why they should try it. Other reasons may include lack of support for their favorite game, or that Photoshop doesn’t run on Linux. For those of us who weren’t stopped by those reasons, why did we switch? What is it about Linux that makes it a viable alternative?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article called “Major Linux Migrations: An Unbelievable List of Nearly 100 From Around the Globe.” One reason for this is so that people could gain a perspective of just how many migrations have taken place. And that list doesn’t even include them all.

The next question might be, “Well why do people find Linux attractive?” It does not support your favorite game. Photoshop does not run on it. There must be reasons for using it that are more compelling than the reasons for not using it.

A few hours of study and research revealed some eye-opening and thought-provoking reasons that Linux users like using Linux. What you’ll like about this is that I made every attempt possible to keep it objective. This study is available as a free ebook from my blog at OpenSUSE Linux Rants. To get your copy, take a look in the upper-right hand corner of the site.

I decided to replace the detractive Linus quote with something more constructive.

In addition to the “Why Linux?” ebook, there are several others available, including:

openSUSE 11.0 – Start-Up Manual (228 pgs, by Novell) This manual provided by the good folks at Novell goes over many things you’ll want to know when learning to use openSUSE Linux 11.0.

Investigation 101Gathering Information about Hardware, Filesystem, and Processes (22 pgs, by Scott Morris) Sometimes, you need to gather information about your Linux system. This can be so that you know what is happening on your machine, or so that you can install hardware, or so that you can better describe details to other people who are trying to help you resolve an issue. This book provides different methods of gathering such information.

YASTInstallation and Management of Software (23 pgs, by Scott Morris) One of the very first things that users need to know is how to install software in Linux. This book is a no-nonsense introduction to mastering the basics of using YAST to manage your system software. It also provides a few tips on how to get all the latest software from all the great servers.

The Easiest Linux Guide You’ll Ever Readan introduction to Linux for Windows users (162 pgs, by Scott Morris) In 2006 I published this book for SUSE 10.1, though almost all of it is relevant to openSUSE 10.2 and 10.3. It was mainly written for people who are competent with using Windows, who have never attempted to use Linux but are interested in giving it a try.

openSUSE 10.3Start-Up Manual (258 pgs, by Novell, 09/14/2007) Start-up manual provided by Novell for openSUSE 10.3.

openSUSE 10.2Start-Up Manual (236 pgs, by Novell, 11/29/2006) Start-up manual provided by Novell for openSUSE 10.3.

I’ve gotten lots of great feedback on those that I wrote.

If you don’t get anything else from this article, make sure to glean this gold nugget: The Start-Up Manual for each release is included directly on the install disc itself! This is true for the DVD, although I did not see it on the CDs.

Throw your DVD into your drive and mount it. Go into the /docu folder in the root of the DVD. You’ll see an ‘en’ directory and a ‘de’ directory. ‘en’ is for English and ‘de’ is for German. In each respective folder, you’ll find at least 4 excellent ebooks. One to get started quickly with Gnome, one quickstart for KDE, a reference, and a startup guide for openSUSE.

Remember, kids. When you download your new DVD ISOs, head to the /docu folder for the free startup guides.

For those not available on the DVD, you can always check my library.

May 28, 2008

“What’s up?” bash script redone, revised, and mo’ bettah

by @ 12:25 pm. Filed under bash, freebies

A couple of days ago, I put together a .bashrc alias. Well, it won’t work right. The commands in “ marks only execute when the shell opens, and then the variables they’re assigned to stay the same, even when you invoke the alias. Thus, the current working directory and the date and stuff that should change each time you invoke the alias, don’t.

To fix this, I changed it from an alias into a small bash script. To use it, just put it into your ~/bin folder and invoke it like you would any other command.

The contents are thus:

#!/bin/sh

# ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY SCOTT MORRIS (http://www.suseblog.com/) on 2008-05-28

# DISPLAY THE MEMORY AND SWAP AVAILABLE FOR THE SYSTEM
function memdisp {

IFS=$' '

MEM=`free -mot | head -n 2 | tail -n 1`
COUNT=1

printf "  Memory:"

for ITEM in $MEM
do
        if [ $COUNT -eq 2 ] ; then
                printf "\tTotal: $ITEM Mb"
        fi

        if [ $COUNT -eq 3 ] ; then
                printf "\tUsed: $ITEM Mb"

        fi

        if [ $COUNT -eq 4 ] ; then
                printf "\tFree: $ITEM Mb\n"
        fi

        COUNT=$[COUNT+1]
done

MEM=`free -mot | tail -n 2 | head -n 1`

COUNT=1

printf "  Swap:\t"

for ITEM in $MEM
do
        if [ $COUNT -eq 2 ] ; then
                printf "\tTotal: $ITEM Mb"
        fi

        if [ $COUNT -eq 3 ] ; then
                printf "\tUsed: $ITEM Mb"

        fi

        if [ $COUNT -eq 4 ] ; then
                printf "\tFree: $ITEM Mb\n"
        fi

        COUNT=$[COUNT+1]
done

}

# DISPLAY THE IP ADDRESS OF ETH0
function ipaddr {

IFS=$' '
IPINF=`/sbin/ifconfig eth0 | head -n 2 | tail -n 1`
COUNT=1

printf "  IP (eth0):"
for ITEM in $IPINF
do
        if [ $COUNT -eq 2 ] ; then
#                 printf "$ITEM\n"
                
                IFS=$':'
                CT=1
                for DATA in $ITEM
                do
                	if [ $CT -eq 2 ] ; then
                		printf "\t$DATA\n"
                	fi
                	CT=$[CT+1]
                done
                
        fi
        COUNT=$[COUNT+1]
done
IFS=$'\n'

}

# COLLECT SOME INFO
IFS=$'\n'
UPTIME=`uptime`
D_UP=${UPTIME:1}
MYGROUPS=`id`
DATE=`date`
KERNEL=`uname -a`
CPWD=`pwd`

# OUTPUT THE DATA
printf "  user:\t\t"$USER" (uid:"$UID")\n"
printf "  groups:\t"$MYGROUPS"\n"
printf "  working dir:\t"$CPWD"\n"
printf "  home dir:\t"$HOME"\n"
printf "  hostname:\t"$HOSTNAME"\n"
ipaddr
printf "  date:\t\t"$DATE"\n"
printf "  uptime:\t"$D_UP"\n"
printf "  kernel:\t"$KERNEL"\n"
printf "  cpu:\t\t"$CPU"\n"

memdisp

If you copy and paste it, save it as ~/sup, and don’t forget to make it executable with chmod +x ~/sup.

Example output:

[1211][scott@tomahawk:~]$ sup
  user:         scott (uid:1000)
  groups:       uid=1000(scott) gid=100(users) groups=16(dialout),33(video),100(users)
  working dir:  /home/scott
  home dir:     /home/scott
  hostname:     tomahawk
  IP (eth0):    192.168.0.110
  date:         Wed May 28 12:11:58 MDT 2008
  uptime:       12:11pm  up   8:07,  7 users,  load average: 0.46, 0.43, 0.30
  kernel:       Linux tomahawk 2.6.24-default #1 SMP Sat Jan 26 21:54:20 MST 2008 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
  cpu:          x86_64
  Memory:       Total: 940 Mb   Used: 756 Mb    Free: 183 Mb
  Swap:         Total: 1913 Mb  Used: 0 Mb      Free: 1913 Mb
[1211][scott@tomahawk:~]$

Here’s a link to the script: sup.tar.bz2

Download the script.

Run: tar -xvf sup.tar.bz2

Run: mv sup ~/bin

Run: sup

Enjoy.

April 15, 2008

ARP Poisoning – I Read Your Email

by @ 7:24 am. Filed under freebies, General Linux, security

Alrighty, folks. I gave a presentation at Utah Valley State College last night about a network security issue called ARP poisoning. It is the ability to hijack any computer’s connection on a local area network. The concept is that you force all traffic going to and from that machine through your own computer. You are then able to filter through that traffic and determine what the user is doing. It is possible to view passwords, and even change traffic as it goes through your computer. Even if they are on a secure website. It’s a fairly common method of attack, and is something to watch out for. I have compiled my notes into an article in the form of a 4-page PDF. If you want to take a look at how ARP Poisoning works, view the PDF here.

January 14, 2008

World-class Linux desktop wallpapers, part two

by @ 6:50 am. Filed under freebies, General Linux, humor, wallpapers

As promised, installment deux of the world-wide number one award-winning Linux desktop wallpaper series. This time, revealing the secret acronym used to name the current M$ operating system. Click for the 1600×1200 version. Resize to fit as necessary. Go Linux.

Windows Sucks

January 9, 2008

The Linux desktop wallpaper that no power user should be without

by @ 6:44 am. Filed under freebies, General Linux, humor, wallpapers

This is the perfect desktop wallpaper for hardcore users of either Linux or Windows. Linux guys can use it to openly declare the truth. Display it on your desktop, or put it on the department hard-core M$ fan’s desktop. Either way, it’s the perfect conversation piece. Click for the 1600×1200 version. Resize to fit as necessary. Go Linux.

Windows Sucks

As this is for XP, stay tuned for the ‘Vista’ edition.

June 21, 2007

Automate Installation of Web Server in openSUSE 10.2 (installs Apache, MySQL, and PHP) – bash script

by @ 11:05 am. Filed under bash, freebies, SUSE Tips & Tricks

We have a special treat for anyone who manages or installs multiple machines running Linux, Apache, Mysql, and PHP. This would also be known as the LAMP stack. I got sick of having to install all that by hand every time I was putting another LAMP server together. What I have done is put together a small bash script that will automate the process of installing Apache, MySQL, and PHP. It also adds them to the init scripts, and actually starts up the MySQL and Apache services. All you have to do is set up your MySQL root password, and you are set to go. This script is available here for anyone who may find it useful. It should be easily modifiable to install perl or python for users of those tools.

Download the script here. Extract with command: “tar -jxvf install-lamp-stack.sh.tar.bz2”

Generally, when installing a new machine, I actually use this script I put together to automate the insertion of YAST Installation Sources as well. Run the Installation Sources script first, and then the LAMP stack script, and you’ll be 90% of the way to having yourself a web server.

June 13, 2007

New Free e-book Available!

by @ 6:41 am. Filed under ebook, freebies, How-To, SUSE Tips & Tricks

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to another wonderful Wednesday morning. I just wanted to let you know that I have completed another free ebook. It is 25 pages and covers the basics of managing software with YAST. It goes over what Installation Sources are, how to get a full list of them, and how to put them in. I also cover the basics of adding and removing software via YAST. The goal of such a book is to give people who have not yet had a chance the ability to get started quickly learning the basics of YAST so they can jump right in and be immediately productive in openSUSE, one of the best distributions of Linux available today.

A short table of contents includes:

Introduction………………………………………5
Open YAST……………………………………………6
Installation Sources………………………………….8
Finding YAST Installation Sources………………………9
Registering Installation Sources in YAST……………….10
Installing Software in YAST…………………………..17
Uninstalling Software in YAST…………………………21
Conclusion………………………………………….23

To get this book, you just sign up for the free “Introduction to Linux” course available from the left nav of my site: http://www.suseblog.com/. After the last class comes to you, a few days later, the free ebook arrives as a special bonus.

For anyone who has signed up previously, you will get a link in an email that you can use to download the ebook. If you are interested in the ebook, go ahead and enroll in the free Introduction to Linux course (available from my site). The course covers:

For anyone who may just be getting started using Linux, this course is for you!

June 6, 2007

Free eBook on Linux Filesystem Permissions and How to Manage Them

by @ 9:30 am. Filed under ebook, freebies, General Linux, General SUSE, How-To, SUSE Tips & Tricks

I am going to recycle this post, as it got pushed down the list quite soon after it was posted, and it actually contains more Linux-relevant information than temper tantrum.

Enjoy:

I suppose it may be a good time again to post something relevant to the topic of Linux. I’m sure that it would likely help if it were of any quality whatsoever. Every once in awhile I do actually write something that I am proud of, and take joy in posting it and sharing it with the rest of the community. The prospect of being able to help someone out is always appealing to me, truth be told.

Well today, I have something that I think may be helpful to everyone. I recently put together a class on Linux Filesystem Permissions and how to manage them. Those involved mentioned that they were impressed with my manner of teaching, and that the material was helpful and relevant. Because of these comments, I am even slightly more motivated to provide this class to you.

Thus, for an ebook of the material covering Linux Filesystem Permissions, feel free to download it here. If you have comments, suggestions, questions, feedback, or concerns, please post them here.

May 22, 2007

Graphic Design in Linux – The Gimp – Some Icons for You

by @ 7:13 am. Filed under freebies, General Linux

Hello there, fellow users of open source software. 🙂 I have never started with that line, so I thought I’d try it.

I have this project that I am working on, which requires some nice graphics. Bein’ the poor fool that I am, I cannot pay a graphic designer to make them. Therefore, I figured I’d don my most tastefully intuitive emo art reflective deep-ness, and be my own ar-teest (I am not going to cut my ear off, though). I whipped open the Gimp like it was yesterday’s burrito and started clicking rabidly on every icon I could find. At some point, I accidentally produced the following buttons:

Some Icons

Suck as they may, I wanted to offer them to whomever may need something similar. If you need an icon set or some buttons for something or whatever. They are really big because I can’t see very well. Just kidding. I make them big so that when I shrink them, it tightens the definition of the lines. So use them at your leisure and let me know if they are helpful in any way.

The Gimp file can be found here. (right-click, “Save File As”)

You can adjust the color if you need to. Select one of the colored layers. Then go up to the LAYER menu in Gimp, then the COLORS sub-menu, then click on HUE-SATURATION. Move the HUE slider back and forth until you find the color you like.

May 10, 2007

Free “Intro to Linux” Course Now Available

by @ 7:03 am. Filed under freebies, General Linux, General SUSE, SUSE Blog News

Finally! Tonight, I was able to wrap up the last class of my online course.

This online course is done via email. It is completely free. People register for the class, and receive an ebook via email every few days containing the next class of the course. Its goal is to be the most basic introduction to Linux possible. So basic that anyone who could possibly be interested in learning Linux can do it through this course. Your 7-year-old daughter or your 98-year-old uncle. Your brother who has never even seen a computer before (ok, that one may be a bit of a stretch). Anyone and everyone should have a basic understanding of Linux once they have completed the course.

You see, this gives a platform of understanding that we can then build upon with other types of articles and such. Besides that, it’s about 36 pages of free e-book content. How could that possibly be bad? 🙂

Because let’s face it… If you are like me, you enjoy sharing Linux with people. However, teaching people how to run Linux can feel time-consuming. That said, what if you had a resource that you could point them to and just say, “Look, this will teach you everything you need to know to get started using Linux.”? Wouldn’t that be great? That is part of the design of this course as well.

Here is a brief list of what the course covers:

If you are interested in such a course, or know someone who is, the sign-up form is in the left nav on my blog page. It’s totally free, and has some great info in it.

I also wanted to announce that this blog has now had over 1 Million page views in the last year. That seriously blows me away.

January 9, 2007

Backing It Up Linux-style

by @ 9:06 am. Filed under bash, freebies

Here we go with another semester of school. Could someone please take a belt sander to my eyeballs?

At work, we have a script that I wrote for backing up our files, code, and data. It is actually one script for the filesystem backups, and one script for the database backups.

I am providing the filesystem backup script here in hopes that it may be of help to someone.

That said, let me tell you a little about it.

This script is meant to perform both full backups and incremental daily backups of a directory and all contents. It creates a bzipped tarball of it and then copies it over to a CIFS share. In our case, our tape backup is on the machine with the CIFS share.

How hard is it to run tar and then cp? It isn’t. What is harder is completely automating the entire process and taking close care to watch the success of every step. It should never fail, but if something does, retry a certain number of times. Log all steps and their outcome to a log file. When the script finishes, email the last 50 lines of the log to the system administrator.

Every step is verified. Meaning that any time a file is copied, the source and destination files are checked to make sure they are identical. Any time any command is executed, the return code is checked to make sure what we think should have happened is what actually happened.

It is pretty robust, and hasn’t even blinked since I gave my final approval to push it live. It could very easily be adapted to back stuff up to FTP or an NFS share or whatever else you need to back it up to.

If you would like to take a look, you can grab it here. Run it without any parameters to see how to use it. You will need to go into the script and put in the CIFS share, username, password, and local mount point. I was going to put everything on the commandline, but I was short on time, so I only put stuff on the command line that would change from machine to machine on our network. The CIFS share is always the same, so I just put that stuff directly into the script.

If you find it helpful, post a comment here and let me know.

December 23, 2006

Automate Insertion of YAST Installation Sources on Your openSUSE 10.2 Machine

by @ 7:35 am. Filed under bash, freebies, How-To, SUSE Tips & Tricks

Installation sources are wonderful things. That’s where the packages come from that we install on our SUSE machines.

So how do we add them in YAST? Is there a way to add them via the command line? Is there any way to automatically add them? Is there a list somewhere of repositories to add?

I would like to take on the task of answering each of these questions.

Adding installation repositories in YAST

This process is relatively painless, outlined as follows:

Open YAST.

Type in your root password.

In the window that appears, click INSTALLATION SOURCE on the right.

In the window that appears, click ADD.

You are taken to another screen asking you what Media Type the new source is. Select the type (many times it will be FTP or HTTP). Click NEXT.

In the next screen, fill in the SERVER NAME, and DIRECTORY ON SERVER. Click NEXT.

You will see some progress dialog boxes popping up and going away as the new installation source is added.

When you are done, click on the FINISH button.

See? That isn’t so bad. It can get tedious, though, if you have lots of installation sources to add.

Adding installation repositories via Commandline

This process is way more painless than adding the installation sources through YAST, outlined here:

Open a terminal window. Become root with the ‘su’ command:

$ su
Password: [Enter root password here]
#

The syntax for the command is:

rug service-add [URL] -type=ZYPP “[NAME OF REPO]”

To add an actual service, you’ll run a command like:

# rug service-add http://ftp.gwdg.de/pub/linux/misc/suser-guru/rpm/10.2/RPMS/ --type=ZYPP "Guru"

 

Adding installation repositories via Shell Script

I have put a bunch of repositories into a shell script. Remember, kids, that your mom always told you not to just randomly add installation sources. She didn’t? Well, she should have because it’s good advice. Because anyone can put anything into their repository, understand the following sentence: I make no guarantees that this shell script will not add a repository that will totally bork your system. That said, I have had no problems whatsoever with them. Because of this, I am providing this shell script for whoever wants it.

Download the script here

It will add a handful of installation sources for your shiny new openSUSE 10.2 system.

One strange thing…. when it adds the OSS repo, sometimes it will exit with a “Failed to parse XML metadata” error. If it does, just re-run the script. It will not put in duplicates, but it will likely add the OSS repo successfully. Also, this particular repo takes like 9,349 centuries (half an hour) to add in, so just kind of be patient with it.

Also, if you have nvidia or ATI, you may want to add the appropriate repository to the script.

What repository to add? From the lists below.

Lists of available repositories

Where are the lists of repositories?

Here is a link to the one on opensuse.org, called “Additional YaST Package Repositories.” What’s also interesting is that one of my articles published by Novell is one of the first things referenced on that page.

Here is a link to the list found on E@zyVG’s blog, called “openSUSE 10.2: The Most Complete List of Repositories.”

Again, do not just blindly add every repository you can find. That will very likely blow up your system. The ones in the shell script should work, but YMMV. Enjoy.

July 31, 2006

“The Easiest Linux Guide You’ll Ever Read – an introduction to Linux for Windows users” – a book by Scott Morris

by @ 6:46 am. Filed under freebies, General SUSE, How-To, SUSE Blog News, SUSE Tips & Tricks

It’s finally here!

After several months of writing and revising, I have made available the “Easiest Linux Guide You’ll Ever Read”. It is a 160-page book geared towards people who are competent with using Windows, who have never attempted to use Linux but are interested in giving it a try.

When I was first learning Linux, I got so lost so fast in so many areas, it was hugely overwhelming for me. I was impressed that I was able to download Linux, burn it onto CDs, and get it installed. But once I got that far, I was excited, but my excitement was short-lived. I had no idea what to do next, how to install software, or what software even to install for what I needed. I didn’t understand the concept of Open Source software. I didn’t know where to go for help. I most assuredly did not know a thing about the command line. 10 years of using Windows was of very little help. I felt that though I was a fairly able computer user, I had stepped into a situation where such experience did me little good.

In the book, I try to explain some concepts of how Linux is similar to Windows, helping people become familiar with it very quickly. I also explain some of the most important differences, many of which are improvements from the environment to which they have become accustomed. The book also dispels many myths that may serve to hamper the adoption of Linux more fully. The overall purpose is to give people a bridge from what they already know to the powerful, fascinating world that is the Linux operating system. Because that world can be a little daunting at first, it’s nice to have a little help getting used to things. This is what the “Easiest Linux Guide You’ll Ever Read” is designed to do.

After seeing what Linux has to offer, it is very much worth my time to help other people see it too. At very least take some time and try it out once. You can even dual-boot your machine (covered in the book) to be able to boot into whichever operating system you want. If you dont’ like it, that’s fine. It is an acquired taste for some people. However, it’s hard to tell people why you don’t like something if you’ve never tried it. Try it out and make an informed opinion based off personal experience.

I wrote this book because I really dig Linux and I want to make it easy to try for people who want to. It’s for you, it’s for the community, it’s for anyone who might benefit from it.

How do I help other people try Linux?

A few days ago, I wrote a post about how to share Linux with others. The article is called “SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 for Spreading the Linux Cure“. It got quite an impressive number of comments, most of which were praiseworthy. The article discusses ways that we can spread the word about using Linux to people who have never heard of it or who might be interested in trying it out. Between the “Easiest Linux Guide You’ll Ever Read” and “SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 for Spreading the Linux Cure.” you should have ample tools and resources for helping people learn how to use Linux.

How do I get the book?

If you would like to download the book, it is available from here. It is in PDF format. Just click the link to download, or right-click and “Save Target As…” you’ll be in great shape. Feedback for the book can be left on the feedback form.

This book is released under the Creative Commons License.

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