LiberKey applications work on Debian through Wine

There is this beautiful portable suite called LiberKey which is really a collection of hundreds of open source applications for Windows.

For months, I have searched and tried out several portable applications for Windows. None of them even came close to LiberKey in terms of the range, stability and upgrades.

I’ve used LiberKey from the same USB device on both XP and Vista machines with equal ease. You can update LiberKey on XP machine and run it on Vista and viceversa. In fact, I’ve copied LiberKey onto my “C:\Program Files” on Windows drives and I enjoy free updates of all my open source applications.

What was a good Windows solution, has now proven to be a good Linux solution too.

Today, I tried out several LiberKey applications on Debian through the Wine interface and most of them seemed to be working well. The only fall back is that these applications dont work through the Liberkey interface. But rather each application needs to be run from its folder manually. This is not a set back  as all it takes is a link to a application to open it.

Debian users sure wont have to miss their little windows programs on GNOME or KDE.

How to : Mount an NTFS drive for read-write in Debian Lenny

Traditionally, Linux users mount NTFS partitions for read-write by first obtaining the libfuse2 and ntfs-3g packages and then manually editing the /etc/fstab file. This process required you to remember several things tedious and there was a risk of making the system non-bootable if the /etc/fstab file was incorrectly written.

Today, I was able to do the same thing with the help of a new module called disk-manage on Debian Lenny and Gnome.

Disk-manager detects, mount new unmounted partitions, including NTFS-partitions in real time without requiring a reboot. Disk-manager  can be also used to set mount point for the partitions.

To install disk-manager:

# apt-get install disk-manager

To start disk-manager

System->Administration->Disk Manager

Howto: Manually assigning X authorisation for Debian superuser

Today, while running Debian I noticed that I was able to run some programs as a normal user. But when I logged in as a super user, the program wont run.
$ gedit starts gedit
# gedit fails giving the following error
krishnanondebian:/home/krishnan# gedit
No protocol specified
cannot open display:
Run ‘gedit –help’ to see a full list of available command line options.

X authorisation for the superuser seems to be an issue that has been discussed several times. There is a sux command which is technically “su+x authorisation”. I didn’t know about the sux command so I took the longer route:

1. open a console and login as ROOT : su

2. see who can launch an “X program” : xauth list
if you get an error or the list is empty(you dont get anything) then continue to read on-probably this is you solution.

3. open a console and as USER see who is authorized to open the X programs : xauth list
This should give you something like this :
desktop/unix:0 MIT-MAGIC-COOKIE-1 395a5228d995d958a0cc59a5afe9d521 MIT-MAGIC-COOKIE-1 45891337dd1f30ea26f45bb6b70449b0
desktop:0 MIT-MAGIC-COOKIE-1 370116e6e873fc798aa4f1429f536219

4. now as ROOT add the ones (hostnames) you want to be able to launch X programs on your DISPLAY :

xauth add desktop/unix:0 . 395a5228d995d958a0cc59a5afe9d521

Do the same for the other entries as well(if you want to be able to launch from other hosts too-try adding all if you dont know which one is the correct one).Notice that the long numbers at the end are the same with the users before!ALSO NOTICE THE DOT “.” between the “desktop/unix:0″ and the number. Now you should be ok.Try to launch the program as ROOT. Should work

Source  :

Howto: Upgrade to Debian Squeeze

My first attempt to upgrade to Debian Squeeze failed. It was because I lost power in the middle of the upgrade and my PC got switched off. It was so bad that I could not get the installation to work again. I had to re-install.

I made a second attempt today and succeeded. Briefly, this is what happened.

18:45 hrs
I pop in the Debian 5.03 DVD 1 and start a vanilla install of Lenny with GNOME.
20:35 hrs
Debian Lenny  installation completes.
20:40 hrs
I edit the /etc/apt/sources.list file to change all instances of “lenny” to “squeeze” and all instances of “.in” to “.us”. This is the only preparatory step required. Nothing else is necessary as the entire squeeze installation happens by a download.
20.41 hrs
I use the update manager to check for updates. Smart Upgrade feature  identifies 1101 packages adding to 881 MB.
20:42 hrs
I begin to download the squeeze upgrades on my 512 KBPS connection
12:58 hrs
All 1101 package downloads complete and squeeze installation starts. Thankfully, I didn’t lose power this time.
01:25 hrs
Installation freezes when attempting to restart the hardware abstraction layer.
01:27 hrs
After waiting for two minutes, I press Enter a few times and Ctrl+c a few times. Disk whirls and installation continues.
01:35 hrs
Installation completes. Update Manager throws out a long list of dependency problems reproduced below. PC freezes again and wont power down.
01:36 hrs
I manually power down the machine, wondering if the upgrade worked
01:38 hrs
When I boot, I notice that the Vanilla installation of Squeeze is near perfect. Everything works flawlessly.

The addition of  multimedia drivers, third party software etc. are for another day.

Dependency problems during a normal squeeze install.
E: dbus: subprocess installed post-installation script killed by signal (Interrupt)
E: dbus-x11: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: gconf2-common: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libgconf2-4: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: gconf2: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libgnomevfs2-common: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libgnomevfs2-0: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libgnomevfs2-extra: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libedataserver1.2-11: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libcamel1.2-14: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libebook1.2-9: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libecal1.2-7: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: python-evolution: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libgnome2-common: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: gvfs: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libgnome2-0: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libbonoboui2-0: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libgnomeui-0: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libpanel-applet2-0: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: python-gnomeapplet: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libgnome-desktop-2-11: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: python-gnomedesktop: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: gnome-media-common: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libgnome-media0: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: python-mediaprofiles: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: metacity-common: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libmetacity-private0: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: python-metacity: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libtotem-plparser12: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: python-totem-plparser: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: python-gnome2-desktop: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: python-gconf: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: python-gnome2: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: consolekit: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: policykit: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: hal: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: xserver-xorg: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: xserver-xorg-core: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: xserver-xorg-input-kbd: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libebackend1.2-0: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libedata-book1.2-2: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libedata-cal1.2-6: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libegroupwise1.2-13: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libsoup-gnome2.4-1: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libgweather-common: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libgweather1: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libedataserverui1.2-8: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libexchange-storage1.2-3: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libgtkhtml3.14-19: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: libgtkhtml-editor0: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured
E: evolution-data-server: dependency problems – leaving unconfigured

Howto: Automatically start a program in Debian

Some times, some of us may need to start a program when starting Debian. One example could be the instant messenger program Pidgin or it could be Vuze for people who want their downloads to start automatically.

GNOME has an elegant solution for this. Go to System -> Preferences -> Sessions and here you can add a list of programs you want to start with every session.

*Edited later*

In KDE4 there is a similar choice in Control center -> autostart.

If you are using KDE 3.5, which comes with Debian Lenny as a default, you will need to add the program manually to ~/.kde/Autostart

Why does Debian smell like freedom?

I bought my first desktop computer in 1999 and Windows ’98 came with it. I thought it was pricey, but I didn’t have a choice. Since then, I’ve bought two more desktops and three more laptops for home use at regular intervals and each one of them came with an XP or Vista license. In the couple of decades that went by, learning Windows was a necessity. Windows ’95 didn’t exist when I was in college and was never taught to me. At that point in time, I didn’t mind coughing up the money for personal licences, to cope with the corporate hunger for Windows.

Now when I ask myself if I would like to pay for the newest Windows, I come up with a big no. This is not the first version of Windows and it certainly wont be the last. Clearly, the more I invest in Windows today, the more I will re-invest in the future. And the money usually buys me features that dont really matter to me. Even if one ends up buying Windows, he’d soon have had to pay for an MS-Office licence, if it weren’t for the open source folks who gave the world atelast a possibility of opening a spreadsheet before opening your wallet..

I re-built my PC recently. Instead of dual booting with OpenSuSE, I now dual boot with Debian 5.

When I get back from work and power up my PC and watch GRUB ticking, I am faced with a hard choice every day. Should I boot into Debian by default and use the less known programs like Iceweasel, Pidgin and Transmission or should I boot into Windows so that I can update my virus definitions, install windows updates and use the programs with nice names?

I’ve learnt by practice that when I boot into Debian, my heart feels free and light. With every boot, the conviction grows stronger. I dont have to worry about buying software. Its sure is not the easiest way to do things. But atleast a programmer wont make me open my wallet again because he couldn’t write the best program in the first go.

I believe that the real solutions for the world today should be simple, transperant,  driven by collective intelligence and  accessible to the masses. If it weren’t for piracy, most commercial software would be lot less popular today. Things were different when people were not computer savvy and depended on other companies to get their software. But as people begin to know more and more about about computers, they are not waiting for companies to step in to solve their problems. They write their own solutions and strive to make it better.

If we can understand that human beings are natural problem solvers who strive to improve the quality of life, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’ve learnt to solve the coding problem. The companies that made hay while the sun shone were the lucky ones. Clearly, open source  has come of age and it will only get better as the average user learns more.

Debian smells like freedom because it reflects my own growth into a mature user who can understand and evalute choices.

To Mac or not to Mac, that is the question

A week after Mac, it has still failed to sweep me off my feet.

I don’t know if 2 gigs of RAM is indeed too small to handle three operating systems at the same time. But things become so slow when I try to run three operating systems together. Also, getting all the operating systems to read all the hard disks at the same time looks difficult too. I operate 6 portable hard disks to keep my data. So with data transfer becoming a chore, some times it looks like the windows way was simple.

Debian too runs on a Mac. But Mac had a much smaller range of applications to choose from. There are sadly no equivalents to the small but powerful FlashGet and uTorrent in Mac. Azuerus seems to be a complicated program to do a simple thing.

In the place where I live, we lose electric power many times a day. When we have power back, I need my PC needs to return to what it was doing even if I’m not sitting in front of it. There seem to be a few problems in getting the Mac to do it. But I think, I’ll eventually tide over it.

I think I need to live through this period of difficulty before I learn to shuffle data between NTFS, ext3 and HFS+. Not to mention, that the keyboard bothers me too. I surely cannot unlearn the windows shortcuts because I need to use windows at work. Remembering how to do it on a Mac with a keyboard is clearly an extra load on the head.

Apple, XP, Linux

Let me break the news.

I’m on Mac OS X and Windows XP simultaneously – a possibility which I didn’t believe existed I till set this up all myself :).

Firefox has already replaced Safari on my Mac. Scribefire works all the same. Yahoo messenger works just the same on a Mac.

This week I plan to try out Debian on VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop.

XP running on Mac certainly seems to be missing a few “power things” that a native Windows PC can do. But Mac’s Leopard is an excellent learning platform available today.

I’m still figuring things. Suddenly, I’m overwhelmed by all the new features I have in front of me to learn.

Moved to Debian

After downloading 3 DVD isos totalling 13 GB, after a week of 9 hour per day scheduled power cuts, after sitting up all  night, after drinking precisely 11 cups of tea with sour milk, after the first few install attempts crashed due to NVIDIA, after GNOME, after KDE, though I’m still on Iceweasel – I movedto Debian.

Good bye Mandriva 2008, You gave me the confidence that Linux can be truly fun.

Good bye Vista, You suck.

Living with Linux

Now here is a story that is a living proof of people’s laziness to move out of Windows:

For the last two weeks now, I’ve been playing around with computers and operating systems. I’ve finally settled on Mandriva 2008. Its been a week now. I haven’t booted once into Vista though it is installed on my PC – some austerity is required, if I were to ever learn Linux.

Just so that I don’t forget it, I need to document my steps every now and then.

Installation (12th Nov 07):

I re-installed from the Mandriva 2008 Powerpack DVD iso which I downloaded. My earlier installation did not include GNOME so I added it on. Install process was simple. I allocated only 15 GB space to the root ext3 partition, which seems to be big mistake now though. The remanining 65 gigs of this hard disk and the other 320 GB hard disk are all in NTFS. This is limiting my ability to handle data.

I could not boot any version of Linux with my NVIDIA geforce 5200
plugged in. So I simply pulled it out and am presently on i915G

Configuration of installation sources and update (13 Nov 07)

After repeated complaints about the installation media not being readable, I used to Mandriva control centre to change the media source for installation and updates to be from internet and excluded the installation media. No complaints since then.

Added compiz effects (16 Nov 07)

Now the 3D graphics rocks :). Shame shame Windows Vista.

Viewing .rar files (17 Nov 07)

Added capability to view .rar files on Mandriva by running this rpm

Now set to learn Linux

For the last two weeks now, I’ve been playing around with computers and operating systems.

One thing comes out clearly. Open source software has come a long way.

In the last two weeks I tried SuSE 9.1,  openSUSE 10.2, openSUSE 10.3, ubuntu 7.10, kubuntu 7.10, Mandriva 2008 power pack. I loved what Linux did to my PC.

I could never resolve the conflict between my nvidia geforce fx 5200 and the onboard i915G that kept preventing Linux from booting. I finally yanked the nvidia card out and settled for the onboard graphics.

Vista runs on my PC with an experience index of 1.0 and the Aero interface disabled. Mandriva rocks my PC.

Haven’t used Vista or XP in weeks. I dont think I need these anymore. I need to learn Linux to survive.

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Booting from grub

All this week, till I complete re-formatting, this is what I need to type at the grub prompt during every start-up of my PC

rootnoverify (hd0,1)
chainloader +1