Category: Linux

Quick File Sharing for Linux and Mac OS X

This is a great little trick to quickly make a directory of files accessible to anyone. You can do it in any OS that has Python installed, which most Linux distros and Mac OS X do. Windows does not have python installed by default, but the same thing should work from there if python is installed.

First, open the terminal and navigate to the directory you want to share. While in that directory type the following command:

python -c "import SimpleHTTPServer;SimpleHTTPServer.test()"

This will start a web server on port 8000. This is a very simple and quick way to share a file over the network. Just send a link to the IP address of the machine.

If you are behind a NAT router or firewall, port 8000 needs to be forwarded or opened, but if you are on the same network all you need to do is send them a link to http://<your_ip_address>:8000 and they can easily browse the directory you ran the command from and download any file there. When you’re finished, go back to the terminal and use Ctrl+C to end the process.

Linux Hardware Monitoring without X

I use GKrellM for status monitoring on my Linux desktop and laptop machines, but have often wished for a way to get some of the same information without running an X server. I searched around and found saidar, which looked like the perfect solution. I went to install it, but I couldn’t find the packages in my distro’s repositories. I was a little upset that I’d have to build the package myself because I was in a hurry at the time. I dug around a bit more and discovered that saidar is contained in the libstatgrab package! It’s great! See saidar in action. Well, I guess it’s not really in action. Just imagine that the screen refreshes every second or so with new stats.

512 MB of RAM in a Brown Paper Envelope

The final hardware piece of the Dell Latitude c600 puzzle arrived in the mail today. I had started to get the basic parts set up with only 64 MB of RAM, but it just wasn’t enough to do much. Firefox took up so much memory that after 15 minutes of browsing the system was stuck paging memory continuously in and out of the swap partition. This made the whole system utterly unusable and usually resulted in one or more processes crashing with out of memory errors. Today that all changed.

I opened up the mailbox to find a bunch of junk mail and one conspicuously poorly-packed package from the New England area. The homemade envelope was made out of what felt like brown grocery bag paper taped together at the ends. There was a tear in the paper and the green circuit board and some black chips were visible and exposed. I had read a negative comment from one individual who had bought RAM from the same seller I had on eBay. I guess his RAM worked, but he was upset at the packing materials used. There was a no DOA guarantee, so that was good enough for me. I popped open the back of the laptop and installed the new RAM sticks. It booted (which is a good sign) and everything seems to work perfectly!

I left the seller some glowing feedback and am now on my way to learning more about Arch Linux (the more I learn the more I like) and to tweaking this laptop. Browsing the web on this 700 MHz Pentium 3 feels just as fast as it did on the 2.2 GHz Pentium 4 Celeron (Dell Inspiron 1000) that Krissy is now using. This c600 has better support for hibernating, suspending, and sleeping which makes it more portable. It runs cooler, too. It tops out at 55 degrees C under normal circumstances, and I’ve seen it hit 58 degrees C when recompiling Xorg (but only briefly, and when one of the vents was obstructed by my knee). The Pentium 4 Celeron would run at between 52 and 55 degrees C under no load and would sometimes get up around 80 degrees C under heavy load. That makes for quite a toasty lap, let me tell you!

That’s two great deals now that I’ve gotten on eBay in the past two weeks!

Arch Linux, Old Laptops, Overpriced Cords, and RAM

So I have been slowly learning how to do things the “Arch Linux Way” these past couple of days. I am really impressed with the way it is set up. I still haven’t run into a package that I want that isn’t already in the repositories, so I haven’t had occasion to compile my own software or make any packages yet under Arch. I hope that process is as smooth as everything else so far.

My brand new Nova Tech mini PCI card arrived today, and I was really excited to try it out. I got the kernel module installed and gave it a go. It couldn’t see anything. So I started doing some research. It turns out that the Dell Latitude c600 requires an additional tiny little hirose u.fl cable. You’d think a thin little 4-inch long cable would cost maybe between $3 and $5, but that’s not the case. Dell seems to have forgotten that people might actually need this part and have kindly removed any mention of it from their website. Reports I read stated that calling tech support results in stupefied silence. The item has become a wonderful specialty part that some companies are selling for as much as $40! I found one on eBay for $7.77 plus $3 for shipping. I was hoping to just pop into Fry’s and grab one, but now I have to wait another week for one to come in from Rhode Island.

Speaking of Fry’s, I wanted to check out their prices on 256MB sticks of PC100 SODIMM RAM. So I poured over their confusing grid of memory prices until an associate finally acknowledged me. I asked him what the cheapest price for the RAM I needed was. He punched i up into the computer and then called someone else. I couldn’t hear the conversation. Then he turned back around and said they didn’t have any! I thought he might tell me that all the good priced RAM was gone, but not that I couldn’t get it at all! I only have 64MB right now and I get programs dying for lack of RAM.

One last thing… I was all set to get this ultra-portable laptop ready to go today because all I needed was the proprietary Dell IDE connector that arrived in the mail today. I had to preload the OS onto the hard drive because the laptop I was installing it into has no drives but the single hard drive. I got everything set up to the point where I could connect it to the network and transfer the rest of the files onto it that way. I went to install it and it was too thick! I hadn’t even considered that that old laptop would use the slim form factored hard drives found in current systems. So all that work was for nothing. Now I’m looking for another hard drive.

“As Is” Gamble Pays Off Big

I bought a 20 GB laptop hard drive off of eBay a week or so ago. I was looking for the cheapest way to get a Dell Latitude C600 back on its feet. It is a pretty snappy machine considering that I got it for free. It had no hard drive or even hard drive connectors, only one stick of 64 MB RAM, a pretty nice battery, and no wifi. So I had my work cut out for me. I ended up paying a total of twenty dollars and some cents for this hard drive. It was sold “as is” which basically can mean one of two things on eBay:

  1. I am selling a lot of products and am in too much of a hurry to test them all
  2. or

  3. I am a scammer and can sell broken crap without my buyers having any recourse

Fortunately for me the laptop arrived on the same day as the proprietary dell adapter for IDE drives. When I plugged it in it was recognized by the BIOS. I booted up Slax from a CD and the NTFS filesystem still had files on it. They all looked like the usual Windows 2000 files. I repartitioned the drive and formatted it. I ran badblocks on the drive and it didn’t find anything wrong. It looks like I got lucky! Now comes the difficult decision. What distro should I put on here. It’s a 700MHz Pentium 3 CPU. I plan on buying 256MB of ram for it, but so far I don’t have more than the 64MB it came with. At the moment I am leaning toward Arch Linux because it seems customizable like Slackware, but looks like it might be updated more often. I am apprehensive to switch away from Slackware, but I figure I ought to experiment with something new. I’m afraid Ubuntu would be too slow. But that’s probably more Gnome and KDE’s fault than anything else.

Linux Flash Player 9 Beta Released

Over the past few years of waiting and watching many sites slowly switching to a reliance on Flash 8, ampoule Linux users have been left out in the cold. Adobe originally promised a version of Flash 8 for Linux, cialis but then they decided to jump over that release and just work on getting a Linux version of Flash 9 out the door. I can say that in my preliminary usage of the new plugin it is much more stable even though it is still in beta. It is more stable than Flash 7 for Linux (which kept crashing Firefox). So I say upgrade now to Flash 9 for Linux and enjoy a more stable, more compatible Flash experience online.

Walking Music for Everyone!

Well, Tommy, they finally did it. It finally happened, and we weren’t there for it. Tommy and I had this idea when we were kids that people should have a soundtrack for themselves when they walk. I’m sure the idea came from video games where there is always background music for no apparent reason. Now there is a wearable computer called PersonalSoundtrack that plays music from a playlist based on your current walking speed. Minor variations in speed are measured and the music speed is dynamically adjusted to match your footsteps. If a deliberate speed change is detected then a faster, more speed-appropriate song is started. I think I would have the slow Peter and the Wolf song for slow walking. I don’t know about fast walking, though. There are so many possibilities it would be difficult to choose just one.

The hardware and software upon which this is built is open source and there is a section for source code on the web site. I’m assuming this will become an open source project soon. This would be a fun project and a great way to annoy people and have fun at the same time.

Using tovid to Create DVDs in Linux

tovid is a set of scripts that makes it easy and painless to convert any video you can play with mplayer to a DVD compliant video and even create a DVD structure to burn onto a disc. These video conversion scripts are amazing. I have used them to convert a PowerPoint slide show that I exported to an AVI file of pictures from my mission in Germany. It’s great to finally get this out of a proprietary format before I can no longer play it. It was created by the missionaries in the Mission Office and was synched up to music.

To get tovid and to learn how to set it up, just go to

The Nintendo Wii Might Run Linux

I was not aware of this before now, but apparently the Wii might run a version of the Linux kernel. It will also be updatable remotely. From an interview on Nintendo’s website:

Wii is the first system from Nintendo that we can continue to be involved in (via operating system updates) after the customer buys it. This means that Wii will greatly expand and diversify the ways in which people will enjoy games in the future.

This could be exciting. I just hope they don’t use this as a way to ruin everyone’s fun with regards to homebrew games, etc.

Free Open Source Software in Three Dimensions

It amazes me what things are possible when the software is open and people are free to innovate and implement whatever they want. This is Linux running a special OpenGL driven window manager called compiz. Apple pioneered this idea, cialis unhealthy but these folks have taken it to the next level. Keep in mind that although Novell created and released this it is open for anyone else to use, modify, and redistribute. It belongs to everyone. Enjoy!