Tools/Utils


I recently had someone ask me about converting from Outlook Express (I nearly fainted, it’s been so long since someone admitted to using OE in front of me) to something more open source (great way to keep from getting a bunch of spam and viruses), and in my research I found a great couple of articles about converting to Open Source mail packages.

The first deals directly with converting from Outlook Express to either Thunderbird or Evolution (which worked great, they told me) and the next is for those converting from that beast from the land of insufficient light, Microsoft Outlook, Converting All Your MS Outlook PST Files To Maildir Format.

Personally, it’s been over 10 years since I was based on Windows email programs, and that only for work. Here’s to all of us who “survived” all those many years on pine and mutt.

Enjoy,

RossB

SUSE Linux Enterprise is designed for the enterprise. Part of what it means to be “Enterprise-ready” is to have “rock solid” components in the distribution which have been fully tested and can be supported. Unstable and unsupportable components/packages just won’t do. BUT… Every now and then, it’s necessary to run “the latest” version of a component of the distribution. Perhaps you have a new application which requires the latest java, or a new development library, etc. So you don’t want to have to wait until that “latest version” of the package gets fully tested and “officially supported”. You’ve got to have that new version now!

You could go to the source and compile your own package for SUSE Linux Enterprise – and while not difficult, it is still kind of a pain – and certainly a turn-off for many a new Linux user. A much better option is to simply visit the openSUSE Build Service and see if your desired package is already being built for SUSE Linux Enterprise. You’ll find builds for SUSE Linux Enterprise, openSUSE, -plus- several other Linux distributions as well… Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, … So save some time, and check to see if the package you need has already been built by looking here.

Want more info on the openSUSE Build Service, check out this good overview article and this blog entry. and of course the project site which includes other great info.

From the article:

When it comes to file systems, Linux® is the Swiss Army knife of operating systems. Linux supports a large number of file systems, from journaling to clustering to cryptographic. Linux is a wonderful platform for using standard and more exotic file systems and also for developing file systems. This article explores the virtual file system (VFS)—sometimes called the virtual filesystem switch—in the Linux kernel and then reviews some of the major structures that tie file systems together.

More here.

While Intel and Atheros are doing a great job writing wireless drivers for linux, there are still other wireless cards, specifically Broadcom, who do not have linux drivers or who do not have good linux drivers.

The purpose of this article is to explain how to configure ndiswrapper in SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 SP1. On my end I am using an old dell c640 (with the embedded wireless card turned off in BIOS) and a Linksys wusb54gc usb wireless device.

1: Go into Yast and install ndiswrapper and the appropriate ndiswrapper kernel module.
- hit alt+f2 enter yast2.
- open the software management module.
- search for ndiswrapper
- determine which version of the kernel you are running(bigsmp, default, smp) by opening a terminal and entering uname -r
- check off the “ndiswrapper” package as well as “ndiswrapper-kmp-<kernel version>” in yast and click accept to install.

2. Setup ndiswrapper
-Determine which chipset your wireless device is using. To do this enter:
hwinfo
or
lspci
or
lsusb
You can grep the results for wireless ex. hwinfo | grep -i wireless or just manually scroll through the output and search for something that looks like your wireless device.

In the case of my Linksys device it uses a Ralink chipset. I found the windows driver (rt73.inf) on the cd that came with the device. Find the .inf file for your card on your manufacturer’s website and download it. (Often times you will have to unzip the .exe driver installer to find the .inf).

-enter the following commands:
ndiswrapper -i /path/to/driver.inf #to install the driver
modprobe ndiswrapper #to load the module
ndiswrapper -m #To ensure that ndiswrapper will always use the same network interface name

3. Configure the wireless device in yast
- You should already have yast open from when you installed the ndiswrapper packages
- This time go into the “network card” module
- Verify that “NetworkManager” is selected and click next
- Click “Add”
- For Device Type choose “wireless”
- Configuration Name “0″
- Moduel Name “ndiswrapper”
- Click next then finish etc. to finish.

I have based this article off of the documentation that can be found in /usr/share/doc/packages/ndiswrapper/README.SUSE after installing ndiswraper

Save a screenshotThere are plenty of instances when it would be handy to take a quick screenshot… maybe you’re working on some technical documentation, or maybe you’re trying to troubleshoot a problem, or maybe you just want to prove to your buddies you got the “high score”…  Whatever the reason, here are some quick tips on how to create a screenshot in Linux — well, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop with GNOME desktop at least…

(1) Entire Screen – Press the [Print Screen] button to take a snapshot of the entire screen. You can also add to your desktop panel this little icon  (Screenshot icon) for “Take a screenshot of your desktop”, or you can find it in the Applications menu under System (in GNOME), or maybe right-click the icon in your Apps menu to add it to your Favorites.  Either way, one click of the icon and it’ll take a screenshot… go figure.

Example screenshot:  Screenshot - full screen

(2) Current Window - Press [ALT] + [Print Screen] to take a snapshot of the currently chosen window.

Example screenshot:  Screenshot - window only

(3) Random Area Selection – Press the [Windows key] (aka, the “super” key) + click-and-drag yourself an area using the left mouse button.   I didn’t know this method even existed until this afternoon when I ran across it by chance.  How cool is that?!?

Example screenshot:  Screenshow - random area

From the “About” page for VirtualBox:

innotek VirtualBox is a general-purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware. Targeted at server, desktop and embedded use, it is now the only professional-quality virtualization solution that is also Open Source Software.

Some of the features of VirtualBox are:

  • Modularity. VirtualBox has an extremely modular design with well-defined internal programming interfaces and a client/server design. This makes it easy to control it from several interfaces at once: for example, you can start a virtual machine in a typical virtual machine GUI and then control that machine from the command line, or possibly remotely. VirtualBox also comes with a full Software Development Kit: even though it is Open Source Software, you don’t have to hack the source to write a new interface for VirtualBox.
  • Virtual machine descriptions in XML. The configuration settings of virtual machines are stored entirely in XML and are independent of the local machines. Virtual machine definitions can therefore easily be ported to other computers.
  • Guest Additions for Windows and Linux. VirtualBox has special software that can be installed inside Windows and Linux virtual machines to improve performance and make integration much more seamless. Among the features provided by these Guest Additions are mouse pointer integration and arbitrary screen solutions (e.g. by resizing the guest window).
  • Shared folders. Like many other virtualization solutions, for easy data exchange between hosts and guests, VirtualBox allows for declaring certain host directories as “shared folders”, which can then be accessed from within virtual machines.

VirtualBox is now included as a virtualization option in the openSUSE 10.3 release, available here. If you’re on another version of Linux, you can get more information about VirtualBox here, and download the binary and source versions here.

Enjoy,

RossB

What is DOS? I don’t know; I’ve never used it before… until today!

Recently I’ve been working on getting SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop working on a really really old piece of hardware. As one of the troubleshooting steps I had to update the BIOS to the latest version. In order to do this the vendor told me that I had to boot into DOS and run an executable that would update the BIOS.

As I said, I’ve never used DOS before, so I had to reach out to Peter Bowen for help. Here are the steps he walked me through to create a Virtual FreeDOS Floppy disk image on your hard drive that you can boot from.

Make sure the following are installed: dosbootdisk, syslinux. Dosbootdisk is a program that lets you create a FreeDOS boot disk. Syslinux is a boot loader for Linux which operates off an MS-DOS or Windows FAT file system.

Follow these steps to boot into a DOS partition:

  • zcat /usr/share/dosbootdisk/floppy.gz /boot/floppy.img
  • mount -o loop /boot/floppy.img /mnt
  • Copy the appropriate files needed for updating the BIOS into /mnt(remember this is DOS so make sure that the file names are no larger than 8 characters and the file extension is no more than 3 characters
  • I had to remove the the following line from my config.sys file in order for the system to boot DOS=UMB,HIGH
  • umount /mnt (remember that you can’t unmount if have have if it is your current working directory ie. if you have cd’ed into it)
  • cp /usr/share/syslinux/memdisk /boot
  • Next we need to setup Grub so that you can boot into your virtual floppy disk.
  • Edit /boot/grub/menu.lst so that it looks something like this:
  • ###DOS Floppy###
    title DOS
    root (hd0,0) #you may need to change this depending on what partition /boot is installed on. Because this system is so old it requires that /boot have it's own partition that is the first partition.

    kernel /memdisk
    initrd /floppy.img

    At this point you should be able to reboot your machine, choose the DOS option and flash your BIOS.

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