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Debian Aptitude novice user unintentionally updates all operating system packages good 0 bad 0

I decided to try Aptitude instead of apt-get install, because I wanted to get the ksnapshot screenshot utility onto my Debian “sid” (unstable) system. I located ksnapshot fine using the Aptitude search function. But, somehow, in trying to approve the ksnapshot install, I ended up approving what appears to have been a complete update of all packages on my system.

I wanted to stop what was happening, but did nothing because files were apparently being deleted as the process continued. Ending up with a system that was part way between two sets of packages sounded like a recipe for disaster, so I let the process continue.

Finally, after about 10 minutes of apparent complete reconfiguration of my system, Aptitude brought me back to a screen that was related to ksnapshot! Apparently, it needed something that wasn’t on my system. I clicked “g” (which, for some reason, is the key that means “Download/Install/Remove Pkgs” in Aptitude).

A message appeared telling me “No packages will be installed, removed, or upgraded. Some packages could be upgraded, but you have not chosen to upgrade them. Type U to prepare an upgrade.” Hmm.. I’d have thought that by requesting to install software, any necessary upgrades would have occurred. In any case, I clicked Enter to get rid of the error message, then typed “U”.

Several files were downloaded. I clicked Enter to move on, and then saw a message indicating the entire process had failed: “The following signatures could not be verified because the public key is not available: NO_PUBKEY …”

Great. At that point I punted on Aptitude (yes, really) and checked my /boot directory: none of the operating system boot files had been changed, so I felt confident I’d at least be able to boot the system the next time I powered down. Truly, it was a relief to see these files still there, since during a previous Debian Unstable update of some critical system files the boot files were deleted, but new versions were not created because the update process failed! At least that didn’t happen as part of my Aptitude adventure.

But I still really wanted ksnapshot. So I tried getting it the old fashioned way:

apt-get install ksnapshot

That worked, though when I run ksnapshot I get a slew of strange warning messages. But the program seems to work!

Technorati.com Blog Registration good 0 bad 0

If you have a blog, registering it at Technorati is highly recommended. Technorati is a way of making a very large community aware of your blogs at the individual post level.

Each time you make a new blog post, you can notify Technorati that a post has been made. Anyone who searches Technorati for recent blog entries in the categories you’ve identified for your blog will see that a new entry has been made.

Disable Synaptics Touchpad Tap Clicks in Linux good 0 bad 0

I installed Ubuntu Linux on my HP nx9600 laptop and found that the mouse pointer sometimes jumped to another location as I was typing, making my typing continue where I didn’t intend any typing to occur. Also, sometimes sections were highlighted without my intending any highlighting to occur.

The bottom row of keys on the HP is about 4 inches from the edge of the machine, with the touchpad occupying the center of that area. My typing style as I reach across the laptop to the typing keys apparently results in touches that are interpreted by the touchpad as taps. So, the cursor jumps to wherever the mouse pointer is currently located.

I researched the Synaptics Touchpad settings and found that setting “MaxTapTime=0″ in my /etc/xorg.conf file would disable taps of the touchpad from being interpreted as mouseclicks.

I made this change and rebooted, and the problems are no long occurring.

Transfer Files Between Two Local Linux Machines Using IP Addresses and sftp good 0 bad 0

I wanted a quick way to transfer some files from my Debian Linux desktop to my new Ubuntu laptop. The machines have ssh installed, but neither machine recognized the other by machine name.

After a bit of browsing online, I found this method for finding out the IP address of a Linux machine. In a terminal window, execute:


[or, on my Debian Linux machine: /sbin/ifconfig]

There will be a section for each network card (”eth0″, for example), and a local section (”lo”). The “inet addr” entry for the network card shows the IP address that other machines on that network can use for communicating with your machine.

With the IP address known, I was able to use sftp (secure file transfer protocol) to log into the remote computer and get the files I wanted:

sftp kevin@192.168.2.xx
sftp>cd dir/subdir/
sftp>get file

HP nx Laptop Ubuntu Linux XWindows Configuration good 0 bad 0

I converted my new HP nx9600 laptop to a dual-boot XP / Ubuntu Linux system. The CD portion of the Ubuntu install proceeded with no problems. But, when Ubuntu rebooted to complete its installation and configuration, error messages appeared related to X configuration. The file xorg.conf was mentioned in log files that were displayed on the screen.

Monitor and video card configuration issues are quite common when Linux is installed onto a PC. My LinuxDevCenter.com article “Adventures in Migrating to New Linux Distributions” discusses some of the problems I encountered during previous Linux installations.

The /etc/X11/xorg.conf file identifies the video card as an “ATI Technologies, Inc. Radeon Mobility M300 (M22).”

Searching the internet, I found that many people have had problems getting ATI video to work under Linux on laptops. I also found out that Hewlett-Packard laptops are not considered “Linux-friendly” by a lot of people who have tried to run Linux on the machines. I’d had little problem installing and configuring Debian Linux on my desktop Pavillion, so when it was time to get a new laptop (after the screen on my second Toshiba laptop failed — the same problem that did in my first Toshiba), I didn’t hesitate about going with HP.

My original /etc/X11/xorg.conf file had the following lines related to the video card and monitor:

Section "Device"
	Identifier	"ATI Technologies, Inc. Radeon Mobility M300 (M22)"
	Driver		"ati"
	BusID		"PCI:1:0:0"

Section "Monitor"
	Identifier	"Generic Monitor"
	Option		"DPMS"

Section "Screen"
	Identifier	"Default Screen"
	Device		"ATI Technologies, Inc. Radeon Mobility M300 (M22)"
	Monitor		"Generic Monitor"
	DefaultDepth	24
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		1
		Modes		"1440x900"
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		4
		Modes		"1440x900"
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		8
		Modes		"1440x900"
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		15
		Modes		"1440x900"
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		16
		Modes		"1440x900"
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		24
		Modes		"1440x900"

I found web pages that suggested that the Xorg “radeon” driver should be used in place of the “ati” driver. Making this change did nothing. Other searches provided information about using XFree86, but I didn’t want to install large new packages when there was plenty of evidence on the net that people had gotten ATI cards like mine working using Xorg. I didn’t find any case where my exact HP model had been successfully configured, but there were plenty of Dells and IBMs and a few HPs, running Ubuntu, Fedora, SUSE, and Gentoo, where similar problems had been encountered and solved. So, I continued searching, tweaking xorg.conf, starting X, watching it fail, reading my /var/logs/Xorg.0.log file, and doing the next web search…

After 4 or 5 hours of this, spread over two days, I went to the HP site to look for drivers. They did not have any Linux drivers for the nx9600, only the Windows drivers. Then I went to ATI Technologies and fairly quickly navigated to the ATI Customer Care page. There I found a tree of operating systems and ATI video cards. Scrolling down, I found Linux->Linux x86->RADEON. Clicking the link displayed a link labelled “ATI Proprietary Linux x86 Display Drivers for XFREE86 / X. Org Version 8.22.5″ — which led to a page that included a Version 8.22.5 driver for X.Org 6.8.

The download driver file was fglrx_6_8_0-8.22.5-l.i386.rpm. I had seen the fglrx name in my prior searching, but I hadn’t tried to get it because there was so much documentation stating that the Xorg radeon driver would work if only I could find the right settings. Also, there is a lot of discussion about advanced features of ATI cards not being supported (yet) under Linux X servers. I thought going with the fglrx driver might be overkill, but I had tried about everything else I could think of, so I decided to try it.

I have Ubuntu on my nx9600, so I decided to see if there was a Debian package I could install instead. At the Ubuntu command prompt I entered:

sudo apt-get update

to update the apt package list, then

sudo apt-cache search fglrx

This produced a list of packages that included:

xorg-driver-fglrx - Video driver for ATI graphics accelerators

I installed the driver with the standard Debian apt package install command:

sudo apt-get install xorg-driver-fglrx

I edited my xorg.conf file, inserting the fglrx driver into the video driver device section:

Section "Device"
	Identifier	"ATI Technologies, Inc. Radeon Mobility M300 (M22)"
	Driver		"fglrx"  #"radeon" #"ati"
	BusID		"PCI:1:0:0"
	#Option		"VideoOverlay" "on"
	#Option		"OpenGLOverlay" "off"
	#Option		"UseInternalAGPGART" "no"
	#Option		"DynamicClocks" "on"

I entered startx, and music played as X started up and loaded the Ubuntu default graphical display!

Alps Touchpad Ubuntu Linux Configuration good 0 bad 0

I made my Toshiba Satellite into a dual-boot XP / Ubuntu Linux system. But in when running in Ubuntu, the touchpad was very quirky–it was almost impossible to control the movement of the mouse pointer.

Searching the internet, I came across some links about Ubuntu and touchpads that pointed me to the /proc/bus/input/devices and /etc/X11/xorg.conf files. My /proc/bus/input/devices file contains the following entry:

I: Bus=0011 Vendor=0002 Product=0008 Version=7321
N: Name=”AlpsPS/2 ALPS GlidePoint”
P: Phys=isa0060/serio1/input0
H: Handlers=mouse1 event2 ts1
B: EV=f
B: KEY=420 0 70000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
B: REL=3
B: ABS=1000003

My original /etc/X11/xorg.conf file (the one created when I installed Ubuntu), contained the following section:

Section “InputDevice”
Identifier “Synaptics Touchpad”
Driver “synaptics”
Option “SendCoreEvents” “true”
Option “Device” “/dev/psaux”
Option “Protocol” “auto-dev”
Option “HorizScrollDelta” “0″
So, my devices list identified an ALPS GlidePoint touchpad, but the XWindows configuration was using the drivers for a Synaptics touchpad.

Moving the Unmovable: Windows Disk Defragmentation Strategies good 0 bad 0

One problem you may encounter in using the Windows Defragmenter program is “unmovable files” (the green bars) placed in an inconvenient location (on the right side of the display, at the end of your disk). The two most common “unmovable” files are the Windows operating system paging file (pagefile.sys) and the hibernation file (hiberfil.sys) that is used to store system state when the XP operating system goes into “hibernate” mode. An easy solution is to temporarily remove these files, then reinstall them after you’ve resized the NTFS partition.

To temporarily remove pagefile.sys, open the Windows Start menu, right click on MyComputer, select Properties, the Advanced tab, the Performance Settings button, the Advanced tab, and the Virtual Memory Change button (on some versions of XP, you’ll click a Settings button in the Performance box, then click the Advanced tab) . Change the virtual memory size to 0 and click OK to save your changes (select “No paging file” and click Set then OK on some XP versions).
To temporarily remove hiberfil.sys, go to the Windows Control Panel, select Power Options, click the Hibernate tab, and unselect “Enable Hibernation.”

After performing these steps, reboot your system and rerun the Windows Defragmenter. You should no longer see any “unmovable” files, and the final defragmentation result will be much better.
If you’re lucky, preparing your NTFS for resizing will be no more challenging than this. However, when I converted my HP Pavilion desktop to a dual-boot XP/Linux system, preparing the disk for repartitioning was considerably more complicated, and could not be accomplished using only the Windows Defragmenter. There, I had to cope with a Master File Table (MTF) disk area and many boot-related files that were located at the end of the disk. The Windows Defragmenter cannot move these files. To complete the necessary defragmentation I downloaded a trial version of Raxco Software’s PerfectDisk. It proved capable of defragmenting the disk in entirety, though to do this it had to perform a boot time run where it moved the scattered boot fragments from the end to the start of the disk before allowing XP to boot.

Last but not least, remember to reinstall virtual memory (a pagefile.sys file) and, possibly, the hibernation option (hiberfil.sys) after your defragmentation has completed.